Clerk Letter Spring 2018

garden in winter

Winters can get long here in Appalachia. Freezing temperatures and piles of snow mean it’s time for our cows to huddle up in the barn and our chickens to snuggle down in their coop. But for our students, cold weather means it’s time to hit the road!

Field Trips Ahead

School resumes this week with the much-anticipated field trip unit. Before winter break, students selected two academic themes they’d like to explore: civil rights and coastal ecology. Now, they’ll spend the next six weeks designing two trips exploring those themes.

middle schoolers on a busBoth trips will meander across the southeast.  In an exploration of the Civil Rights movement and its connections to social movements of today, one trip will visit Penn Center in St. Helena Island, SC before heading toward Selma, AL. The coastal ecology trip will investigate the impact of climate change on both human and natural communities on the Gulf coast while possibly participating in hurricane relief to communities who need it.

Making phone calls, studying maps, and soaking up the academic background of these subjects will keep our community busy as we prepare for these exciting, southbound 18 day trips.

The Spring Thaw

It’s hard to imagine spring from our current chilly vantage point, but when we return from field trips, it’ll be time to wrap up the year with our spring unit. As the pond finally approaches swimming temperature, students will embark on their final academic session, coupled with the hustle and bustle of the end of the year: making costumes for our “prom,” preparing parting gifts for advisors, writing “minutes” for departing peers and staff.  And of course, we will take one last outdoor adventure just before graduation with the choice of either hiking, biking, or canoeing.

middle schoolers in a tentAs one of the school’s co-clerks, I’ll be staying back from trips: answering phones, feeding cows, and so on. I’ll also be orienting our two spring interns: Tyler Clapsaddle, from Antioch College, and Ruilin Fan, an Arete alumna. While it’s hard to stay behind, I’ll have the satisfaction of seeing our students, who entered the year tentative and unsure, fledge the nest and fly forth, proudly representing our school norms and culture into the wide world. It’s gratifying to see their confidence grow. I know that by next fall, they’ll be ready to take the next group of new students under their wing, and take them on another ride around the wheel.

-by Sadie Kneidel


18 day trips are experiential education in action!
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