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Report on the 2011 Auction Gala

OVERVIEW:  This year's Auction Gala was very successful!  We were able to raise $25,000 with everyone's help and participation.  To learn more about the history of our auction and how we use the funds, read Eric's address.  Features of the Auction Gala:
  • a fabulous Art Display from all grades (pieces were sent home with each family)
  • creative keepsake projects from each grade (photos and descriptions in the Journal)
  • lovely recycled centerpieces by Kirsten McDowell
  • a beautiful Journal by Diane Velasco, click here for a PDF copy!
  • performances by the Marching Band, the Drama Group, and all students
  • baskets, silent auction items, 50/50 boards, Apple Ipad 2/LCD TV/Entertainment System Raffle
  • an address from Eric (cut due to time at the auction, full text is below)


Thank you to the Parent Resource Committee!
Thank you to all the volunteers who attended the meetings till 8...or 9...or 9:30 on Monday evenings.  Thank you to everyone who secured donations for tonight, and to all of you in attendance for your participation.  I also would like to thank our staff, each of whom is playing and has played a critical role in the development of our children.  Finally, a special thank you to all PSOLI graduates who are here tonight. Your support and your legacy means more to us than you may imagine.  I urge everyone here to seek out our graduates, listen to them, and talk with them about what they will always carry with them as a result of their childhood at PSOLI.

Progressive School does not belong to me. It is, in fact, a non-profit corporation.   I, like many here tonight, am an employee of that corporation.  Ultimately it belongs to all of us, especially you--its students.  I consider my responsibilities a sacred trust... and for whatever remaining time that trust lies with me, it will be my duty to attune the school to the sublime philosophy of Neo-Humanism, to implement that philosophy in ever-progressing ways, and to serve our population.  Each year we have tried to experiment, improve and evolve.  This year, for example, the school created new curriculum through our focus on morality.  We also added a nutritious hot vegetarian lunch program, a Wikipedia site for students to manage, and a marching band.

In order to improve my limited capacity to accomplish tasks and to serve you better, I also must experiment, grow, and learn.  This summer I will visit Neo-Humanist schools in Iceland, Romania, and Denmark.  As I conduct some training and inspections, I will also be there to learn from them.

Over the years parents have noticed that PSOLI is a labor rich in love and idealism, but often short on physical resources. These parents took it upon themselves to hold events, like this one, which helped the school to develop in many ways.  Over the years we paved our parking lot and added fences, we added computers, furniture, projectors, a website, and a grant program for struggling families.  We added a volleyball court, a middle school, and then a solar roof on that middle school, all the while trying to keep our costs down for Long Island families.  Last year, when the recession hit, all that changed.  We found ourselves depending on the auction just to make up a budget gap caused by families losing jobs and homes, being unable to continue private education, or simply unable to pay their bills.  That 25th anniversary party was our most successful auction ever, and we were even able to send $1000 to two sister schools in Haiti that were transformed into feeding centers after the devastating earthquake.  This year we are emerging from that recession, and I hope to use much of the proceeds of this auction for several outdoor initiatives.  I also continue to invest in developing a global exchange program that would allow families to spend a month in another Neo-Humanist school—like the one in the rainforest of Australia.  A small portion of the proceeds will continue to support our grant program, and go to a poorer sister school. 

While unraveling the tapestry of Neo-Humanist thought and principles, and discovering how to apply them to education here on Long Island, I had some hopes, some dreams about the final outcome, but I didn’t really know for sure what that final "product" would look like.  Now I do, and it the single most important thing I can share with you.  That final "product" is not our current buildings, or furniture, or books, or reputation.  It is our graduates.  If you’ve read my ongoing alumni blog, you already know what I’m talking about.  In just the last 72 hours, I've received news of a winner of the Rensselaer Medal for science/engineering which comes with a $15,000 scholarship, a graduate fellowship award at UCLA, another high school valedictorian, and acceptances at Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, and the University of Illinois.  You see, several years ago, when our graduates started to come back and tell us about some of these remarkable, and often unpredicatible and unbelievable achievements, we began trying to find the cause.  We traced the thread of those achievements back through time to experiences at Progressive School.  What we learned clarified and defined for me what this school is.  The stories of our graduates’ accomplishments, though  varying greatly from each other, all had at their core a repetitive theme: a set of personal qualities that just kept repeating in case after case after case.  The evidence was so overwhelming that it couldn’t be coincidence.  So we began documenting through interviews, and compiling the data.  We then tested that data on our most recent graduates, and sure enough, they repeated the exact same themes in the exact same language, nearly word for word.  Proof enough for me.

Service to Others; Zest for Learning; Self-Knowledge; Leadership; Calm Rationality; Self-Constructive Behavior; Literacy; Self-Confidence; Healthy Relationships with Adults; Integrity, Aesthetic Sensitivity; Universal Outlook; and Joy.  These are the 13 qualities that were silently at work in the background.  They bore the lion’s share of the responsibility for all the awards and prizes, the scholarships and internships, the jobs and public achievements, the valedictorians and the Ivy League acceptances.  And at the very core of these 13 qualities lay a belief:  "I matter, I care, and the world needs me to be my best."  Now, if these qualities use words or phrases that someday you want used to describe your child in high school and college, then you’re in the right place.  We might not have everything you want, we can’t have everything you want, (Constance would say we can, but not just yet), but we know what we can do.  And this result, this is what we do, and we do it well, and we do it consistently, and that result is priceless.  It gives me hope and confidence in the midst of any adversity.  Ask anyone who attended our graduate panel meetings over the last 2 years, or better yet READ MY SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT THESE QUALITIES AND WATCH THE UNSCRIPTED VIDEO CLIPS OF GRADUATES TALKING ABOUT THEM. It’s right on the blackboard!  In the past 5 years, since we’ve had a middle school, graduating has been pretty close to a sure guarantee that your child will have a generous smattering of the qualities I just listed.

Which leads me back to tonight and now.  With the help of scores of former students, we then attempted to trace the development of these 13 qualities to specific practices in their elementary and middle school education.  And guess what? Over and over again they traced the roots back to, among other things, our moral guidelines.  In fact, graduates reported in their opinions that 9 of the 13 qualities were developed with the helpful influence of those moral guidelines and how we use them to shape curriculum, methods, and personnel.  So this year I thought it would be a good idea to focus on those moral guidelines, learn them better, practice them more consciously, and see how we could create new curriculum.  Each month the students shared their creations, projects, ideas and experiences.  I shared much of that with you via my weekly website newsletter.  And tonight we want to share just a bit of that with you.  To me, this should not be viewed as a performance.  It is a peek into what we have been learning and doing with this year’s theme, plus a little drumming added in.

RESULTS:  With the $25,000 earned at the Gala Auction we intend to begin a number of outdoor initiatives including planting traffic resistant grass in our picnic area, purchasing an outdoor play/construction set, creating outdoor storage, and parking lot clean-up and repair.  In addition,  some of the money goes into our Grant Fund, and about 2% will be hand delivered to the Director of a Neo-Humanist college which operates in the poorest district of India, and is a beacon of hope to young people seeking education, jobs and a better life.  The school is still struggling to recover from the recession, and the single best thing you can do to help us prosper is to BRING US A NEW STUDENT!

CONTENT (check back for updates):  Below you will see video of the Marching Band.
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The K-2 song:  HELLO


Make a plan
Give a hand
Let’s make our school
Shine bright
For a heart that’s kind
Will cleanse the mind
And it feels good all the time

The 1st grade song: ONENESSS

I want to be
Someone who loves the sea
I want to see
A blue sky surrounding me
I want to be
Free to be
Just you and me
I want to give
The warmth and love
That my heart is bringing
I want to hear
The special sounds of
Young people singing
I want to be
Free to be
Just you and me

The 2nd grade song: SERVICE

Let’s treat the world with kindness
Every living thing
Let’s treat the earth with patience
For every human being
Respectfulness and tolerance
Caring for all kind
Inclusiveness and sharing
Is our favorite rhyme

Below is video of 3-4 recorder.
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The 5-6 poem (non-overindulgence)(by Shel Sileverstein):

Jimmy Jet and His TV Set
I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet --
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
Till he grew pale and lean,
From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"
And all the shows between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying "VERT." and "HORIZ."
Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
We all sit around and watch him.

Below is video of the middle school Unity Dance (Oneness).
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"Elenor Rigby" rewritten and sung by the middle school:

Ah, look at all the lovely people
Ah, look at all the lovely people
Eric Jacobson, was nobody’s fool when he started this Progressive school, he thought it was cool
Belief and passion, to give something back to his children was his golden rule, his heart was his tool

All the lovely people, we know where we come from
All the lovely people, we know where we belong

Eric Jacobson, writing the words to a song that we all need to hear, keeping us near
Look at him working, finding new ways to make certain that we learn to care, helps us be aware

All the lovely people, we know where we come from
All the lovely people, we know where we belong
Ah, look at all the lovely people
Ah, look at all the lovely people

PSOLI, a place like no other, community, more than a school
Morality rules, family feelings, we just can’t explain but we know that we all feel the same, we’re glad that we came

All the lovely people, we know where we come from
All the lovely people, we know where we belong


"Follow the Ethical Road" skit by Laura Carrington and the Drama Team (covers all 10 moral guidelines)
The Good Witch of the North of Merrick has visited the Land of PSOLI and learned the Way of Neo-Humanism.  The characters then follow the Ethical Road.  Dorothy learns Service and Contentment, something she lacked in Kansas.  Scarecrow vows to practice Benevolent Truth and Study Wisdom with his new found brain.  The Tin Man promises to practices Cleanliness so his doesn't rust, and make time for Meditation.  The Lion decides not to take the "lion's share" by practicing Non-Stealing and Non-Overindulgence.  Finally the Wicked Witch is transformed by Baba Nam Kevalam (only the name of universal love), and the Good Witch makes her swear to Non-Injury and Seeing Oneness.

Progressive School of Long Island

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