Ashland, Oregon – Reflection 2015

Dear Odyssey Parents,

Hello from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival! At this moment, I am sitting in the back of a lecture hall at Southern Oregon University.  Our students are quietly taking in a full lecture on Renaissance Dance, given by Daniel Stephens, a professor at the university.  Odyssey students are engaged and asking excellent questions and the instructor is clearly impressed and delighted by the youngsters. The fledgling college pupils will attend 3 more lectures and interactive presentations taught by SOU Theatre Department professors:

Our students truly enjoyed Tuesday night’s high-energy performance of Much Ado About Nothing, and, yesterday, they were mesmerized at the afternoon showing of Guys and Dolls, a fantastically choreographed musical production. Last night, Odyssey students were treated to an outdoor play, Antony and Cleopatra, at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre under a curtain of stars and in very brisk temperatures! They look forward to tonight’s final play, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land.

Our stay at Southern Oregon University has been somewhat magical.  The theater district is within walking distance from the university and the collegiate environment is uplifting and beautiful.  The students are getting an authentic taste of dorm and college life and the variety of meals at the brand new dining commons is quite robust.  Each morning, I address our students in an attempt to motivate them to take full advantage of their Odyssey education so that, some day, they can aspire to attend a lovely institution of higher learning – perhaps a place like SOU.

By the way, I inspected your kids’ dorm rooms yesterday afternoon and it is clear to me that the Odyssey faculty will have to design a new life skills course entitled “Good Housekeeping 101.” We will teach students how to fold clothing, make their beds, arrange their suitcases, and, in general, be organized. Given the low scores achieved by the kids during my dorm room inspection, I will have to charge each family another $82,000 in additional tuition and fees in order to float this new course of study. The high price is to provide me with the necessary resources to hire the nation’s best experts with the highest credentials in order for Odyssey to tackle this behemoth educational task! Please see the picture below.

On a more serious note, the students are feeling the effects of accrued fatigue and are ready to return home. They have been on a long Odyssey expedition that has been packed with challenges of all types and magnitudes. The purpose of Odyssey’s first expedition of 2015 – 2016 was somewhat conveyed in its name – Orientation: Finding Our True North – and, simply stated, it was designed to build a team of productive and cooperative students and teachers. We hope that we will be able to leverage our newly formed team relationships during future academic challenges in our classrooms as the year unfolds.

During all Odyssey expeditions, students travel on the pathway of the Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey. This route has two parallel tracks that are intimately connected at the hip – the Inner Journey and the Outer Journey. All students venture from waypoint to waypoint on these 2 pathways. The separation from home and family is an element of the expedition that is paramount and provides students with opportunities for inner personal growth and development as they meet the manifold daily challenges of the quest. In short, they learn about their individual potentials while also discovering the Odyssey Team’s higher capacities. This is what sets Odyssey apart from most schools in the United States – we lead expeditions, not trips.

I look forward to seeing you all at Friday’s Homecoming Celebration on Odyssey’s small front lawn. Please be mindful that we need our driveway clear for Odyssey’s vehicles so that we can maneuver our expedition hardware. That said, do exercise extreme caution when crossing Polhemus Road after you park your car outside of Odyssey’s campus. If you have younger children with you, please hold their hands while walking on Polhemus Road.

The students will be a bit busy when they first arrive – helping the faculty unload expedition gear. The faculty certainly can use some aid as they have spent 10 nights out with 50 middle school kids! An average night of sleep for adults rarely exceeds 6 hours and for the medical staff it can be quite a bit less.   I have led schools and employed teachers most of my adult life and I have yet to meet a finer group of dedicated teachers.

When you pick up your student on Friday afternoon, I am sure that you will be inclined to ask if the “trip was fun” as that is a typical question to pose. To that end, I remind you that the event was an expedition and not a trip. Also – we never listed “fun” in our inventory of learning objectives. That all said, I think all participants of all ages exuded high spirits and laughed plenty while they learned about courage, commitment, fortitude, bravery, compassion, attitude, teamwork, and endurance.

I am attaching a few pictures, below. In due course, we hope to build a media presentation that we can share with all Odyssey community members.

Warmest regards,


SOU Dorm Rooms

The 2 students living in this dorm room will be enrolled in Good Housekeeping 101.

Lecture on Renaissance Dance SOU

The Renaissance Dance Lecture at Southern Oregon University

Group photo after theatrical make-up class.

The Odyssey School student body in between classes at Southern Oregon University

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