Kathie Foster, Acting Superintendent
Today is the shortest day of the year, but every day from this
point forward, the days get a little bit brighter...Inch by inch, it becomes
lighter and lighter as we move forward from here. – Steve Mayer on Winter
I don’t know about you
but for me the shorter daylight hours that come part and parcel with this time
of year often leave me feeling a bit lethargic. Science has proven that less
sunlight drives our bodies to shut down earlier, and as famed writer Clement
Clarke Moore wrote so eloquently, settle
in for a long winter’s nap. Alas, as with most things, this odd phenomenon has
a silver lining, serving a healthy purpose for re-energizing and renewal. For, just
as nature requires a period of dormancy in order to preserve energy and
insulate from the elements in preparation for a new life cycle, so it is with
our bodies. In winter, we actually produce
hormones that make us sleepy, giving us the time necessary to restore ourselves
- body, mind and spirit. This period of stillness can provide us with varied
opportunities for reflection, solitude, and for taking stock of our lives.
One of my favorite things
about this time of year is the spectacular degree to which we are able to view the
night sky as the stars, in all their glory, shine silently from above, gently
urging us to awaken to the secrets of the universe and the mysteries of life.
Observing the sky on a cold winter night invokes a sense of wonder, stirs the
imagination, and sparks a connectedness to something greater than ourselves. In
bearing witness to the infinite order of our vast universe, I find myself
contemplating the ancient adventures of Orion as he soars across the night sky
with his canine companions Canis Major and Canis Minor.
The Stars Are
Aligned: Fun Facts about the Stars
- The number of stars in
the universe are immeasurable. The Milky Way alone contains between 100 and 400
billion stars. And that is just one galaxy!
- For every grain of sand
on the earth, there are about 10,000 stars in the universe.
- Stars are usually
between 1 and 10 billion years old. Some may even be closer in age to the observed
universe at nearly 13.8 billion years old.
- The closest star to
earth, besides the sun, is 4.2 light years away. A light year is the
distance light can travel in a year.
- Many ancient cultures
used the position of stars to tell stories. We inherited the names of the
constellations from mythological heroes and legends.
- Early agriculture used
the constellations to determine when to plant and harvest crops.
Calendars were created by using the position of the stars.
- Sailors depended upon
the stars to navigate the seas, often following Polaris, the North Star.
Escaping slaves followed the drinking gourd, The Big Dipper, north to freedom.
On December 21st,
Robbinsville Schools will celebrate the Winter Solstice. This astronomical phenomenon marks the shortest day and,
conversely, the longest night of the year. Dr. Mayer was particularly fond of
this annual event marking the turnaround to increased daylight and symbolizing hope
for a brighter tomorrow.
we followed his lead and indulged our inclination to slow down the in winter? What
if we opted to sleep more and demand a little less of ourselves? We urge
you to give yourself and each member of your family permission to hibernate for
at least for one evening. As Winter Solstice approaches we will ask
students, families and staff to take time to slow down, unplug, and spend
time focused on the things that matter most.
will recall that Dr. Mayer believed deeply in living accordance with his values. He often engaged administrators, staff and
students in conversation around the question, “Who are we?” As we honor our
friend by paying tribute to his favorite day of the year, we, too, will engage
in meaningful discourse about who we are and what we believe as a school
community. On December 21st,
during K-8 morning meeting time and 9-12 second block, teachers and students
will discuss and reflect upon the values of tolerance, kindness and respect. These
community building activities are aimed at promoting understanding and
acceptance. That night, no homework will
be assigned in order to allow families to eat together, engage in uninterrupted
conversation, play a board game, take a walk and observe the night sky, listen
sky’s the limit! Enjoy the show!