Letter from the Director of Education

It is the mission of Noorthoek Academy to provide a continuing education in the arts and sciences to students with learning challenges and other intellectual disabilities, with the purpose of expanding horizons, exciting curiosity, and encouraging self-expression.

This academic year brought with it many highlights.  The biggest highlight was that we were able to meet in person if students chose to do that. We maintained several Zoom classes but students who wanted to be in person were. It made it even more special when we were able to take off our masks and see everyone’s smiling faces. For our new students, this was the first time that we were able to fully see them and it was beautiful!

Our fall semester had us taking a trip through the country of Italy. We began by exploring some history including the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Students learned about the Renaissance being a time of rebirth. We learned about some of the contributions of artists and inventors of that time like Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, and Galileo. We explored the geography of Italy and learned that Italy has 2 of the most active volcanoes in the world with Mt. Etna and Mt. Stromboli. One theme that continually arose during our studies is that of “la bella vita” or the good life. We talked about how Italians work to live, instead of live to work and what the difference is. The general Italian lifestyle is more relaxed with an appreciation for simple and beautiful things. Students poetry this year captured that theme in a beautiful way.

Winter semester was all about extreme environments and how living things adapt. We learned about the hottest and coldest places on Earth as well as the highest and lowest. Regions like Death Valley, Antarctica, Mt Everest, and the Mariana Trench were part of our studies. Students became inspired by the obstacles that living things had to overcome to survive in extreme locations. You will read poetry that expresses how they have individually overcome challenges to not only survive but thrive.

The poems you will read in this compilation are reflections of what has been learned this year. The title of this compilation of poetry comes from a poem titled “Mountains to Climb” by Erin D. The poem paints an image of climbing a mountain peak but is also symbolic of pride in accomplishing goals and striving to reach even more than the human mind can imagine. It is my sincere hope that as you read this poetry, you hear the voices of Noorthoek Academy students and experience their wonder of life.

Sandra Barraza,

Director of Education, Noorthoek Academy

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