Following up on Part 1 of this blog, “A Brief History of OCP,” we’d like to introduce a few of the pioneering OCP students from those early days and learn a little bit about their OCP experience and what they are up to today. OCP kids are the best!
Noah was a student at the Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool before it was officially a preschool. At that time, we were meeting in the basement of Laura LeDuc. His father was the teacher and would often bring toys from home to supplement what little we had in the classroom. It was sometimes a little tough on Noah having to share his dad and his toys. His friend Conrad, on the other hand, could not understand why he wasn’t allowed to go upstairs in his own house. It was a tricky time as we all got the preschool thing figured out.
In fall 2005 we moved to Church of the Epiphany, Noah and his classmates had their first real classroom, and Kate Reese became their first official teacher. She was strong, kind, loving, and just what they needed. By this time, the growing body of parent volunteers had collected books, puzzles, toys, and a play kitchen. The Oakhurst Cooperative Preschool was off and running.
When asked what he remembers from preschool, Noah says he mostly remembers friends like Olivia, Aria, Esme, and Ellie. He also recalls his teacher, Ms. Kate, who helped him with so many things. Oddly enough, he also remembers the cardboard bricks.
Noah is now a mature and confident 12 year old. He attends grade 6 at the Waldorf School of Atlanta and plays viola in the middle school orchestra. Noah is good at math and plans to study science in high school and college. He loves to play strategy games, spend time with friends, and hang out with his little brother, Eli. He also loves his cat, Daisy, who sometimes feels the need to lick his head.
Aria started at OCP before it was a fully formed cooperative in the late spring of 2005. Class was held at OCP founder Laura LeDuc’s house or at the Wylde Center. Paul McClendon was the teacher, gently guiding them though a morning of songs, stories, and snacks. Aria remembers Paul playing his guitar. Once OCP found a space at Church of the Epiphany in Decatur, and Kate Reese as the teacher, Aria attended the first class of OCP. She attended twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Class names had not yet been determined, only that the children were Twos. Aria remembers the pillows in the cozy corner, where she would “read” books. She moved upstairs with Kate the following year, in the Sparrows class, attending twice a week. Occasionally, Aria would also attend on Fridays, since life was busier at home with baby brother Justin. After Aria moved on to pre-K in 2007, Justin attended OCP as a Chickadee the following year, and mom Wendy later taught at OCP for three years, including two as the Owls class teacher. The family remained very closely connected to OCP, even when the children weren’t in school there!
Aria’s family moved to Woodinville, WA, in the summer of 2014. Aria is in the 7th grade now, and attends Leota Junior High. She loves everything about school, especially science. New to her this year include playing clarinet in Cadet Band and participating in Drama. Outside of school, she practices capoeira, takes piano, learns coding and electrical engineering, and goes to Chinese language school. In her free time, she likes to read or play with the family’s five chickens, or read while hanging out with the chickens.
Stephen & William
Our family joined OCP in 2005, just as older brother Stephen turned one. Stephen was not even walking when he started at OCP! He was part of the only Ones class in OCP’s history, known as the “Farm Team.” Stephen was at OCP for four years – in addition to being a member of the “Farm Team”, he was a Chickadee, a Wren, and a Lark. His brother William joined OCP in October 2008, on the day he turned two. William couldn’t wait to be a part of the Chickadees class that year, and director Betty Wood lovingly called him “happy feet” from the moment he could walk with his brother into the building! William was at OCP for three years, as a Chickadee, a Wren, and an Owl.
Today Stephen is 11 years old and in the 5th grade at F.AVE, and William is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade at Oakhurst Elementary. They are in school and in sports with many OCP alumni, and it is incredible to see how much our OCP kids have grown and flourished. Stephen lives and breathes soccer. He also is learning to play the drums, which makes for a loud house sometimes. William plays soccer and lacrosse, and he has taken a liking to the keyboards, definitely a quieter instrument. The boys have always been the best of friends. While they may not remember all the details of their years at OCP, they certainly carry with them the love of old friends and a genuine appreciation for being part of a community. We have OCP to thank for such a wonderful start for Stephen and William and for our family. Happy Birthday OCP!!
Gigi was barely 16-months old when our family joined OCP. She was part of the little Farm Team that met at our family’s house initially and eventually moved to Epiphany. Gigi was tiny but a force to be reckoned with even at that age. She explored everything fearlessly and with abandon. If she had it in mind to do a puzzle, she would take out a whole stack of them and empty out all the pieces at once. Her teacher, Paul McClendon, fondly called her “Destructo.” Gigi moved on to the Chickadees class and then the Sparrows.
At OCP, no one stopped her from emptying out ALL of the wooden puzzles into a large pile. No one taught her the “right” or the “wrong” (i.e. the adult) way of doing things. There was only one way for her: Gigi’s way. When we designed our curriculum to be child-centered, and child-driven, we meant it.
Today, as a 6th grader at Cliff Valley School, Gigi remains bold and independent. She does not check one book out of the library, she checks out five or six, and reads them all simultaneously. She carries her school bag on her back and a separate “book bag” full of her library books to school EVERY DAY. She is self-confident in crowds of new people. She’ll walk up to anyone, push through any crowd, and express her opinion unabashedly (sometimes to a fault).
Gigi has always been petite in stature but it has never stopped her from playing with the big girls or boys. She may not be the best volleyball player on her team or the fastest in cross-country, but she’ll give it her all every time. She has a beautiful singing voice, and each year, she proudly gets up on stage by herself during the school’s talent show and belts out these amazingly difficult songs without breaking a sweat. She is righteously indignant about protecting our planet and has no qualms about expressing her disapproval when others fall short in that respect.
Gigi doesn’t take herself too seriously. She bounces back from disappointment, and vehemently refuses any help from Mom on school projects, protesting that it is her project and it does not have to be perfect! As Mom (also the first vice president of the OCP Board) says, “I obviously did not have the benefit of an OCP education. I was schooled in the OCD tradition instead!” She adds, “I am comforted in knowing that her OCP years taught her the value of community and interdependence. She is becoming a young lady (gulp) but she knows she is part of something greater than herself. She will venture out to find herself and explore this great big world, but she won’t wander far from our ‘nido.’”
Lily joined OCP in 2007 as a Chickadee with Ms. Becca back when OCP was still located at Epiphany. Lily moved up to the Owl class along with Ms. Becca for the next year and then topped off her OCP experience with Ms. Andi in the Larks class. Two of her strongest memories from her Lark year are performing as the Mouse in the story of The Mitten, and having “Show and Tell” in class every Tuesday.
Lily is now a 5th grader at Mary Lin Elementary in Atlanta. She enjoys school (mostly) and has just been elected Student Council Treasurer. She is especially excited to be able to participate in the art club this year. She is also super busy with her extracurricular activities, such as ballet, tap and modern dance classes, gymnastics, and piano lessons.