Aaaauugh-some October!

The month started us off with a wonderful Family Days.  After 2 days of education, therapy and fun, the Fine Arts Festival was held at a new location closer to downtown.  This round’s theme was Respect, and we were graced with 14 great acts! We always love seeing what our students come up with and their amazing talents.

In Utah, there is a fall break from school that is for the teachers, but our students didn’t mind!  On Thursday, October 16, our kiddos got to go to Wheeler Historic Farm, where they saw animals, had a wagon ride, tried a little hay maze and picked out a pumpkin.  We are lucky enough to live right around the corner, and the weather was amazing, so most opted to walk that day.

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After lunch, we were able to paint pumpkins (while some were determined that they carve – with a plastic knife!)  The evening was topped off by a screaming round of Extreme Karaoke.  This is where performers don professional (read: loud!) headphones, playing the song of their choice… to the point that they can’t hear anything else, even themselves.  Meanwhile, the audience only hears the performer singing in the microphone, and no music.  Our students were quite skeptical at first, but once the ball got rolling, the laughing was louder than the performers!

Friday morning brought a trip to the Hill Aerospace Museum. This is located North of Salt Lake, on the Hill military base, and includes an impressive collection of modern and historical military aircraft. Our students really seemed to enjoy doing something different.

That evening, students had the choice to either go to the Nickelcade, or attend Madame Butterfly, an opera by Puccini at Salt Lake’s Capitol Theater.  Both options were an adventure!

Later in the month was, of course, Halloween!  La Europeans held a talent and costume fashion show in the afternoon.  Each student was allotted ten dollars and time at the thrift store to put together something awesome – the results were fantastic!  Prizes were given for best costumes and acts, as well as some goodies for those that participated.

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After dinner (and cookies!) they indulged in hot cocoa and cider, made caramel apples and watched the original 1930’s Dracula.  There was so much fun and sugar that candy bags had to be saved and distributed a few days later!

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A Utah Labor Day Weekend

LaEuropeans had Labor Day off of school, of course, but also had the bonus of the Friday before off, as well.  Friday morning, the group was treated to a tour of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s, a chocolate factory here in Utah.

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It was actually very educational, but even on a day off of school, we were happy to learn – about chocolate! Samples were also part of the deal, so it was a favorite.

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That evening, the crew was incredibly excited to be able to head to the theater and watch The Fault in our Stars, based on the best-selling book.

Labor Day was a day to sleep in a little, then Zumba Instructor, Ileah, came to the house for a fun workout that had us dancing, laughing and definitely sweating.  That evening, everyone piled into the vans with Hobo dinners, guitars, games and headed up Millcreek Canyon for a nice relaxing afternoon and evening just hanging out around the fire, singing, making dinner, and wrapping it all up with the obligatory s’mores.  Can’t get enough of those gorgeous Utah mountains!

Summer Break!

 We had quite an eventful week off of school for summer break in August.  Monday began with a trip to see Million Dollar Arm in the theater – you can watch the trailer here. That afternoon saw our group rafting down the Provo River.  It’s a relatively mild river with minimal rapids, where at some points was very serene and relaxing, with other points providing our group some obstacles and unforgettable experiences.

Tuesday took us up Little Cottonwood Canyon for a short hike to Cecret Lake, where we enjoyed lunch and the beautiful scenery. The evening was low-key, going to regular groups and dinner at the house, followed by the usual Tuesday evening prospects – Free Time options and AA.

Wednesday brought our kids to serve in one of their favorite spots – the Humane Society of Utah.  They just can’t get enough of those furry little friends!  They got to fraternize with big dogs, little dogs, cats and even a few from the rodent family.
That night, we were able to head to downtown Salt Lake for a free outdoor concert with the Utah Symphony. It was a wonderful mix of people and a nice night of culture.

The house was favored Thursday morning with a visit from Amanda Loveland, CEO of ModBod Clothing. She shared a wonderful message of authenticity and divine inner-beauty, and gave each of our kids a beautiful necklace as a reminder. “No matter what you look like, what your shape is, or where you are from, we are all women. We have a unique quality to us that is divine and we need to embrace who we truly are OUTSIDE of what everyone tells us we should look like. Divine beauty comes from within and we are all beautiful. We just need to allow that beauty to come forth. We need to be fearless.” -Amanda

In the afternoon, each community in turn visited a large local labyrinth (learn more about labyrinths here.) It is a kinesthetic practice of a metaphorical centering, a journey to your own core. It was a very positive, meditative experience, followed by dinner and a movie at home – projected on the wall, of course!

We ended the week off with a visit from This is Your Band, an LEA favorite. (They’ve been here before!) This incredibly talented band plays and sings backup for our very own stars, karaoke style.  There were some truly choice performances this go round!

Labor Day weekend was right on the heels of this break – don’t go too far!

Independence Day Weekend and Family Days

Thursday, July 3rd

Traditionally, Independence Day is celebrated with the explosive energy of fireworks on July fourth. This year, the students at La Europa got to experience a bit of that energy on the day before the celebrations through a visit from Shaun Parry.

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Shaun is a veteran performer based out of New York City. His career encompasses work as a singer, dancer, actor, and choreographer on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in national and international Broadway tours, the Metropolitan Opera, the National Ballroom Championships, MTV, cruise ships, and more. He has taught, performed, choreographed, directed, and lectured at numerous studios, colleges, and universities worldwide.  Among many more honors, Shaun is also the President and Founder of Promethean Spark International, an incredible nonprofit organization whose mission is “Teaching life skills through training in the performing arts to impoverished youth worldwide; breaking the cycle of poverty by inspiring change from within.”

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In his lecture and workshop at La Europa, Shaun used this methodology to help our students uncover their personal power in the same way he helps youth all over the world. He spent time connecting with each of them and describing the type of work that he does. He talked with them about their choice to give 100% of themselves, not only through the work they would do together, but through life in general. He also established individual and group accountability and all of the students agreed to participate fully.

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After the initial discussion, Shaun turned on music and taught some choreography, focusing on noticing and observing details, on reaching beyond limitations, and on following instructions. The kids responded well and were invested as a group throughout their time together. Afterwards, they processed the experience in a circle and discussed the lessons they learned. The positive energy and connection in the room was palpable, and Shaun stayed afterwards for a while to talk with the students and answer questions.

The afternoon was a little more low-key, and the students went to the theater to see Disney’s Maleficent. That evening, they had the choice to go to the rec center to swim.

Friday, July 4th

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We started Independence Day with a beautiful hike up to the Bell Canyon reservoir in Sandy. The weather was perfect and the view was incredible. We played in the water, took pictures, and enjoyed the sun on our skin before heading back to the residence.

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After a barbecue lunch, the kids brought their A-games to an epic water baseball square-off between the Lunas and the Stellas. The pitched, hit, stole bases, and slid into home on a field with kiddie pools, hoses, and slip-and-slides. We had a great time and were able to make some fun memories.

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We cooled off with some ice cream before doing hygiene for the evening’s activities: a Real Salt Lake soccer game and a Salt Lake Bees baseball game, with the students choosing their attendance preference. After enjoying the games, each group of students watched the fireworks display that the venues provided and came home for some well-earned sleep.

Parent Days

Thanks to all of our families who came out to Utah for our most recent parent seminar! As usual, we capped off the weekend with a fantastic Creation-themed fine arts festival at the Sugar Space Studio for the Arts. Highlights from the festival included a hip hop dance choreographed by Ali Monsen (who will be leaving to pursue a career as a television news anchor shortly), a professional commercial filmed by our film class, original songs by several students, footage from our week-long student film festival, beautiful renditions of cover songs, a stop-motion film by the photography class, and the traditional closing slideshow. Also, special thanks to our fashion design and 3-D design classes for the displays in the gallery. Footage from the festival will be posted shortly on the family web site.

We have a few more days off of school next week and several fun things planned! Stay tuned for more updates soon.

 

Memorial Day at LEA

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We always have a great time when school is dismissed for a holiday, and Monday was no exception. We started the day by visiting the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake and were greeted by eagles, pelicans, toucans, vultures, condors, cranes, swans, parrots, and every other bird you might imagine. The kids were particularly impressed with a peacock displaying his beautiful tail feathers and several families of ducks with newborn ducklings, all of which were roaming freely in the aviary.

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Afterwards, we headed to Liberty Park for picnic lunches and play. We got wet, played on the playground, relaxed, and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. It was a beautiful day to be outside.

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After returning home and showering, we prepared for the evening’s activities – a visit from actors of the Salty Dinner Theater company. We decorated the tables for some fine dining and dressed in our best formal 1920’s attire, in harmony with the musical “Mafia Murder Mystery” we were about to witness.

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After the actors and technical crew set up, the actors escorted the students to their seats and mingled with them, dropping clues about characters and motives. With funny dialogue and revamped versions of popular and musical theater songs, the actors unfolded the plot, involving the kids in the action in creative and hilarious ways as they ate dinner. The students had the chance to make accusations at the end of the night and “punish” the culprit(s) with consequences of their choosing. Afterwards, we danced and mingled some more with the actors.

 

We are looking forward to another week off of school this coming week… more details to come!

Spring Break at LEA

We’ve had such a great time at La Europa over the past week! Here are some of our adventures:

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Monday, April 14th

The week started with a live version of the board game CLUE. The kids had a list of suspects, weapons, and rooms and were divided into three teams. Each team started in a different location (the house, the school, and the CERTS offices). They had to discover the identity of suspects by making inquiries, find “weapons” (like a jump rope or plastic bowling pin) stashed in random places, and locate rooms by posted (but hidden) signs. As they raced to eliminate options, they drew closer to the solution that was located in a manilla envelope. Each team that came up with the correct conclusion received a prize and the first team to return received an extra incentive.

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That evening, the kids who indicated that they wanted to participate in a seder for the first night of Passover were treated to a beautiful dinner prepared by Sam, our cook, and Sheila, our marketing director. The rest of the kids headed over to the Energy Solutions Arena to watch a Utah Jazz vs. LA Lakers basketball game.

IMG_0665Tuesday, April 15th

We spent most of Tuesday at Boondocks Food and Fun in Draper. We enjoyed unlimited go karts, bumper boats, batting cages, mini golf, arcade games and simulators, lazar tag, and a pizza/pasta/ice cream buffet. They were even kind enough to cook the gluten free kosher for Passover pasta we brought for our students observing the holiday! We had a great time!

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Wednesday, April 16th

On Wednesday, the kids piled into vans and headed over to Wheeler Historic Farm. Once there, we divided into five teams and explained the rules for the day’s Amazing Race, patterned after the television reality show. The kids raced to find locations and clues, perform silly stunts, and avoid being detoured by opposing teams. All team members received prizes based on their speed in getting to the final destination.

That evening, after some free time and group therapy, everyone was able to enjoy Muppets Most Wanted in a local theater.

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Thursday, April 17th

Thursday was a full and busy day. We started by visiting the new Living Planet Aquarium where we saw penguins, petted sting rays, and walked through tunnels with sharks swimming overhead. After the aquarium, we had picnic sack lunches and jumped, flipped, dodged, and bounced around at the WAIRhouse Trampoline Park.

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That evening, we took advantage of the beautiful weather by watching an outdoor movie   in the back yard of LEA on a giant inflatable screen and stereo system. As the night turned a bit cooler, we enjoyed a bonfire and s’mores as the feature played.

DSC01174Friday, April 18th – Sunday, April 20th

Friday was a more relaxed day and students enjoyed some free time in the morning and a hike to Ensign Peak in the afternoon with our rec therapist, Nikki.

On Easter Sunday, the kids colored Easter Eggs and had had a hunt around the property for other plastic easter eggs and candy.

10173719_586056313164_3383040972546595874_nWe missed our students who with their families over this week and we’re glad to they’ve returned safely. More fun activities to come!

Musicals and Motivation

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More fun times at La Europa and in the community! Here’s what we’ve done with our recent days off of school:

Friday, February 28th

Our students always enjoy giving service at the Humane Society and request that we go as often as possible. We started off the day there socializing with the animals and getting lots of love from them.

In the evening, we got the wonderful opportunity to see the national touring company of Bring It On, The Musical at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City. With Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Choreography, the show was full of great music, incredible gymnastic displays, and a plot our students enjoyed. Here’s a sample of one song from the musical, performed at the 2013 Tony Awards:

 

Thursday, March 13th

We had an amazing visit in the morning from a friend of Trilby, Robbi, Aaron, and Sheila. Jill Nugent is a licensed substance abuse counselor and board certified interventionist, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Jill shared her powerful story of overcoming abuse, addiction, toxic relationships, and other chaotic life circumstances. She was very honest with the kids about her journey, and it was inspiring to hear about the complete shift in her life as she decided to work the steps of recovery.

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Friday, March 14th

On Friday, we experienced a backstage tour of the highest-attended community theater in the country, the Hale Center Theater in West Valley City. Besides showing the kids around, our tour guide, Melanie, taught them experientially about the most important thing an actor can have (control), audience etiquette, theater games, props, and more. Our students had question after question and had a great time as they learned.

That afternoon, we returned to the Hale to watch a moving performance of Les Misérables. Even though the Hale is a smaller theater in the round, the cast and crew were able to portray this musical in a way that honored it’s sweeping scope. We had a wonderful time!