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December in Review

Review of Nutcracker
Lumen students and staff attended an adaptation of the Nutcracker performed by the International Ballet Theater at Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Theatre. The students did incredibly well sitting in a packed theater full of elementary school-aged children. Our host, the Godfather Heir Drosselmeir, interacted with the audience by asking questions and telling jokes. There was no intermission, but instead the Godfather shared a short story of our transition from the ‘real world’ to the land of sweets. The dancers were exquisite. We found out during our question/answer session that the youngest dancer was six years old! The International Ballet Theater offered a wonderful staff member dedicated to meeting the needs of our Lumen students during the performance. The staff member offered us a sensory-friendly room with better lighting, fewer people, and a glass wall that decreased the volume of the music. However, all of our students were able to spend time in the theater! They all were enthralled with the performance from start to finish. They danced, sang, and clapped along.  


Quotes from the students:
“I liked the dancing.”
“Wow, that was so beautiful!”
“I liked when the mice turned nice at the end.”
“I liked the pink fairies.”


Life Skills Outings
In December, the students were able to enjoy their monthly trip to the library as well as pay a visit to Country Village. Though we missed the opportunity to meet the reindeer, our students were still able to explore this Bothell institution and learn more about local water fowl. This is a perfect transition into our farm theme for January!


Stations & Themes
During the first week of December the kids learned about Hanukkah and how various people celebrate this holiday differently. We read a short story about Hanukkah traditions as a group and even ‘lit’ candles on a felt menorah. Each student had the opportunity to place a candle on the menorah throughout the week. To keep with the theme our stations included Hanukkah-themed games and crafts. These included a Hanukkah coloring page, and a modified dreidel game with coins to work on counting, turn taking, and sportsmanship. 
During the second week of December we moved onto Christmas. We read ‘A Christmas Wish’ and had themed activities such as pretending to bake holiday cookies, making a snowman, crafting a Santa with a cotton-ball beard, and building a Christmas tree with shaped ornaments. Some of the kids requested to make a paper chain for their Christmas tree so we added that as well. We also learned about St. Nicholas day when some people use shoes instead of stockings to get small gifts and candy (you might have seen a colored sneaker or shoe project come home that week). On Friday the 14th we read a children’s version of the Nutcracker Ballet to prepare the students for our field trip. We talked about the concepts of pretend, fiction, and make-believe, and how toys cannot come to life. On our final week we focused on the celebration of Kwanzaa.  We read a book and compared how Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are similar and different.  They completed some Kwanzaa art sheets with the unity cup and symbols of the celebration.  They ended stations with a “snowball fight” (with cotton balls as snowballs!).  

Every Friday the kids have a show-and-tell about the crafts they completed that week. Each child has become more comfortable standing in front of their peers. Those who are able to answer are asked a couple of questions. 

Music 
In December quarter notes, eighth notes and half notes were introduced. Students also reviewed 12th notes as well as quarter rests. They practiced what was learned in our “play along songs” with instruments and rhythm sticks. The kids started singing together too! They sang Christmas songs and even played along with instruments! Lastly, the students watched videos, and discussed orchestral symphony music (such as the instruments we saw and heard).
Coming in January

Life Skills Outings
The outings in January will focus on the harvest and Farm-to-Table themes: we will be taking a trip to 21 Acres, and the students will experience a life skills series at Whole Foods. The adventure at Whole Foods aims to teach the children about healthy food choices by teaching how to read labels and identify symbols on packaging that help them maintain their specific dietary needs.

Music 
We will review the learnings from December as well as build on that knowledge through rhythm sticks and play-along songs. Students will continue to practice singing with the intent of using rhythm sticks along with words. Different singing techniques will also be introduced such as: blending (listening to each other as they sing), annunciation (pronouncing and singing the words clearly), and breathing (when to breath while singing a song). 

Stations & Themes
After the whirlwind of celebrations in December, the students are going to refocus on some of the themes from earlier in the year: Harvest, Egypt, and Science. The activities for weeks one and two will include dressing like a farmer, creating props and tools, playing harvest theme games, and learning about the importance of bees. The students will even be creating their own farmers market - creating their own “business plans” and booth.

During social studies students will dive deeper into learning how to write and spell in hieroglyphs, go on an “archeological dig”, and craft their own papyrus.

Science has a very fun theme this month - Mad Scientist! The kids will be working with test tubes, creating experiments, and observing scientific reactions!

 
Updates

Correction on corporate match: We are able to accept corporate match on charitable contributions, *not* tuition. Please accept our apologies for the misinformation printed in our last newsletter! 

Assessments
We’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with our school policy on assessments of student academic performance. Lumen Academy has been invited to take part in state assessments that are a requirement for public schools. These are not required for private schools, and we will not have Lumen students participate in them. We feel that the skills and abilities of our particular student body would not be as accurately reflected in these assessments as the assessments we already have made for your child. Our assessment process is designed for our children based on their differences and challenges, collects more detailed and in-depth data, and we are best able to design and customize your child’s therapeutic and academic programming based on the information we currently collect. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact Dr. Calhoun.

Admissions/Therapies Open House 
We will be hosting open houses on Friday, January 25th and Tuesday, January 29th at 6:30pm at the school. These dates serve both to allow prospective families to learn about Lumen, as well as allow you the opportunity to learn about supplemental therapies that could be benficial for your child.
If you know of any families who would be interested in learning more about or are considering enrollment at Lumen, please let them know! This is a great opportunity for them to tour the school, meet with the Executive Director and staff, and to address questions about our program.
We are very proud of our therapeutic model - one that addresses the most common challenges associated with our students’ neural differences but also provides opportunities for adjunct therapies should the need arise. Although ABA, speech and OT can address the great majority of our student’s challenges, each of our students has very unique needs that may at times benefit from these supplemental therapies. Our open house provides a great opportunity to learn more about these adjunct therapies: what they are, what challenges they address, and who provides services. Please contact Dr. Calhoun if you would like assistance to determine if adjunct therapies would be beneficial for your child.
Student of the Month

Aurelia Drake 
Favorite subject: Reading 
Favorite hobbies:  Enjoys baking and looking out the window thinking about Christmas 
Favorite experience at Lumen: The Nutcracker field trip
What she wants to be when she grows up: A YouTube blogger who makes videos about LOL dolls 

Aurelia earned our first student of the month status because she started it all!!  

Dr. Calhoun says, “I have had the immense pleasure and privilege of watching this student’s growth over the past 2 years. I have watched her gain language, and read with a fierce pace. I have enjoyed laughing with her as she began to develop her sense of humor. She has so much potential.  She, as with all our students, has SO much to give to the community. It was so disappointing to learn that no other schools would accept her because of her diagnosis, and that public school fell short of assisting her properly with her needs. Before we even formally decided to create Lumen, Aurelia told her mom, Lucine, and I, that we were going to create a school for her.  We have Aurelia to thank for being the catalyst to creating something better for her, others, our community and our world.”
 
Her RBT Christina Oglesby says, “Aurelia is a very sensitive and sweet girl who is always concerned about the well being of others. She brightens every room she is in with her witty sense of humor, and melts your heart with her compassionate way of thinking. She is an excellent student! Even when faced with difficult tasks she models taking a deep breath, and encourages herself. I feel we all have something to learn from her, such as how to make a new friend feel welcome, or how to express how we feel in creative ways. She is a wonderful student that Lumen Academy is lucky to have.”
 
From her RBT Emily Wichser: “Aurelia has an unstoppable thirst for knowledge and learning. I feel so grateful that I get to be a part of the team that assists in this process for her. I have loved watching her learn and explore new things so far this year. She is a light in our classroom and does her best to make everyone feel welcome. Her humor is one of a kind, and I love the way she feels the music when she’s dancing! She is truly a bright star here at Lumen.”

From Lucine, Aurelia’s mom:
What are your favorite qualities about your child?
“She is inspirational with her compassion for others. I love her thirst for reading: she read novels under an hour before she was verbal, and she read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series before age 5!  She has a goofy sense of humor. She loves word puns. My most favorite quality about her is her power to impact this world deeply. She has changed my life in a very profound way in that through her I discovered my own autism, my passion for advocating for neurodiversity, and the vision for the remainder of my career. I reckon so many of our peers have this power, but society tells us we are less than because of our diagnosis. I am grateful to Aurelia for leading me down the path to know that the potential of neurodiverse individuals is worth fighting for, and I dedicate the rest of my life towards this truth thanks to her.”

What brought you to Lumen Academy?
“Even though Aurelia was the brain-child behind Lumen Academy, I gave her the choice to decide what setting she would like for her education. She chose Lumen specifically because she wanted to be around other children ‘like her’.” 

What is different about Lumen Academy for you and your child? 
“Aurelia says this is the best school she’s ever been to (and she’s been to a few!) She has been in both private and public settings. No one I’ve ever met in any setting has the experience, and more importantly, the heart, to properly assist my daughter’s potential in academics - or life, for that matter - the way that Dr. Calhoun does.” 
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Lumen Academy · 14461 156th Ave NE · Woodinville, WA 98072-9080 · USA

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