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APRIL 2020

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Dear Harmony family, near and far, welcome to our new newsletter.

Spring is in full bloom here in south-central Indiana. Normally at this time of year Harmony’s halls would also be filled with the spring-time energy of our students. Multi-cultural month, Earth Day plans. Our seniors out in the world, deep into work on their projects. But here we are, living with the new reality of a global pandemic and physical distancing. Staying home. Sheltering in place. Our building is closed. Our halls are empty, silent.

In-person classes at Harmony, and all of our local schools, are canceled for the rest of the school year. Our faculty are being forced to push their creativity to new horizons. We’re figuring out as we go not only how to move our curriculum online, but how to maintain a sense of ownership and community among the students as we do it, and how to keep supporting each other as a school family. Obviously this impacts our usual plans for the end of the year (graduation projects, graduation itself, end-of-year trips, etc) - teachers Sallyann, Ursina, and Lana share updates below on how their classes are adapting.

In this moment, when so many are seeking ways to stay connected through the virtual world, I believe it is an important time for us to reach out to our alumni and rekindle our connections. We have thought more and more in recent years about how to stay better connected to our thousands of alumni spread across the world, and this year hired our first Alumni Coordinator - welcome, Mandy Skinner! We want to hear about where life has taken you since Harmony, and how you're doing in these challenging times. Let's come together THIS SATURDAY, April 18 at 2 pm (eastern) via Zoom for an Alumni Family Meeting - click here to sign up! Mandy and I will be there, along with teachers Sallyann, Ursina, and Lana; Fern (our Development Director and an alum who grew up right alongside Harmony), and one of our very first students, Marsha Washington. See below for Alumni Spotlights on Marsha and Lana.

Our goal with this newsletter is to bridge Harmony’s past, present, and future. We want to share stories that connect our alumni to current students and staff, and keep our community supporters connected too. We hope you all enjoy reading it.

Take care out there, and keep in touch,
Roc (Steve) Bonchek
Email me at [email protected] - I'd love to hear from you.


Wish you could drop by and say hi? Join us for an ALUMNI FAMILY MEETING THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 18 at 2 pm EST (via Zoom)! For any past students, parents, and/or staff - anyone who wants to reconnect and talk about ideas for growing our alumni network. Click here to sign up and we'll send you the link to join.
Harmony at 1982 World's Fair
Join our Alumni Facebook Group: Harmony Born, Harmony Bred
This group connects our 45+ years of Harmony family: alumni, parents of alumni, past staff, and current staff.

Where in the World are Harmony Alumni?
Fill out our Alumni Questionnaire and let us know! Or, send updates to [email protected]
Interested in joining our newsletter team as a writer or editor? Write to [email protected].

Staying connected during the coronavirus pandemic: Updates from our teachers

From Sallyann Murphey, High school teacher and senior advisor: "I have never been prouder of a senior class."

Ironically, it was Friday the 13th. We had been bracing for it for a while – which didn’t make the announcement that they were closing schools any less shocking. The following week – which should have been our spring break – passed in a blur of days struggling with new technology to find the tools that would get us out of the real world and into the virtual one. We learned a new vocabulary: Zoom rooms, Discord, Kahoot – and rediscovered computer skills we had forgotten we had. By Monday the 23rd, the teachers were ready with a shiny new schedule and a full curriculum of classes.

None of it would have worked, though, without the support, patience and positive energy of the kids, who have been magnificent under very trying circumstances. There hasn’t been a word of complaint – not even from the Seniors, whose world has been turned upside down! Every senior project has been impacted to some degree by the crisis. At the extreme end, students like Reed, Griffin, Lucy, Abigail and Rose are having to rethink the final structure of their projects, while others have to reconfigure what would have been live presentations into digital form.

They all came back to their Student Advisory with ideas at the ready, determined to finish well. Presentations will be turned into video packages, podcasts and narrated slide shows. They will all be uploaded to a private YouTube Channel, available to view from May 12th. Their project and citizenship votes will be taken the following week and virtual graduation – with intros and speeches - and a few surprises – will be uploaded for everyone to enjoy on Friday, May 22nd. Please join us in celebrating this extraordinary group of students – who are showing such courage and resilience in the face of these horrible events. I have never been prouder of a senior class.
Griffin - building kayak2

Passion and Freedom, Community and Change: Three Senior Projects

Back in mid-March, Denise Breeden-Ost (Harmony parent and graduate, '89) interviewed three seniors about their projects - and then followed up to hear about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. Reed Evans is exploring biology and sustainable agriculture, including a hydroponics experiment. Glen Breeden-Ost is hosting and producing an interview-style podcast on business and entrepreneurship. Griffin Bongard is building his own kayak, with plans to take it on a camping trip down Sugar Creek. Read more...

Ursina Hastings-Heinz, Middle school teacher, says her goal is to help students "express their feelings and process as we navigate through these scary times."

Middle school students have transitioned gracefully to on-line learning. It's a challenge for all of us. We Zoom, have family meetings and discuss current events. We attempt to have a personal conversation weekly with each student to focus on their social and emotional growth and not just academics. I gave my students an assignment at the beginning: “Wow – No School in April – What Else is on Your Mind?” Each student created five slides and I compiled them into a slide show. Students then had to respond to each other’s postings. The result was thoughtful, creative and touching. Read more...

From Lana Beck-Cruce, 3rd & 4th grade teacher: "The biggest thing is that we want to stay connected with the kids."

This has all gone much better than it could have, I think. We really quickly came up with systems. Each classroom, each program is doing it a little differently, in our own Harmony way. We have to be flexible and supportive of families handling schooling in different ways right now, every situation is different. We have open back and forth communication between all the parents, kids, and co-teachers. We’re making sure we touch base frequently with families, and that we help meet people’s needs. For the younger grades, we give our students a robust schedule of activities each day. They do them, take pictures, send them back to us. Read more...



Marsha Washington ('77)

In 1977, Marsha Washington became the third graduate of Harmony School. Now, 43 years later, she has found herself circling back to Harmony, through a job training program that gave her the opportunity to work in the office this year. As one of our earliest alumni, Marsha is also excited to be part of reaching out to alumni and sharing their stories.

Lana Beck-Cruce ('00)

Lana Beck-Cruce, 3rd & 4th grade teacher, holds Harmony School very near and dear to her heart. Not only is she a teacher here but also a parent and an alum. In fact, the locker she painted in 8th grade is still preserved in the upstairs hallway! Lana shares her story, reflecting on her connections to Harmony from 1994 to today.

Share YOUR Harmony story! Write to [email protected].

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