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News from RMS XIV
Click on a date to read an update from the students of RMS XIV:
Greetings from the first week of the RMS!
It seems funny that we arrived less than a week ago as the students and faculty of RMS 14 began to gel instantly. All of us are very happy and excited to be here, and that permeates everything we do! Arrival day was an adventure in itself. We barely had time to greet each other before we hopped into three vans for the two-hour ride to Leadville. In the vans, we talked and got to know each other as the plains disappeared and we headed west into more and more impressive mountains. We knew our new life was about to begin. Upon arriving at campus, we met Molly and the staff; they gave us our cabin assignments. We then unloaded our duffels and moved into our cabins. The students are broken up into four cabins, two boys cabins and two girls cabins. Amazingly, despite the varying backgrounds of each student, every one gets along very well. Smiles are seen all around! In the cabins, we are all learning that staying warm isnt as easy as flipping a switch; our wood burning stoves need lots of attention. So far, though, everyone has done a great job keeping our cabins as warm as 80 degrees despite the freezing temperatures!
Every morning at HMI we begin with a half hour of morning exercises, or AMX. Our first every AMX was a walk. It was a great way to get outside and continue our acclimatization to life at 10, 200 feet. Snow soccer was on tap for Friday. RMS 13 had packed down the field a little bit but there was a good foot and a half of new snow for us to wallow through during the game. It is defiantly a new twist to soccer! All 35 students played at once with two soccer balls, which was good since most people find breathing more difficult at altitude. Saturday morning was our first run. The running program is evolving at the RMS. Our goal, which makes some of us nervous and others excited, is to run from town to HMI by the end of the semester. The altitude again made this challenging for almost everyone, but everyone pulled though and it was a great way to get some exercise. On Sunday morning we met for a huge game of ultimate Frisbee in the snow. Since it has been snowing pretty often in the last couple days, there was more snow to wallow through, which only made the game more fun. Cabins 2 and 4 teamed up against 1 and 3, which made for a great game. All in all, AMX has become a great way to wake up and start the day.
We spent most of Saturday and all of Friday planning for our first expedition into the Canyons of Utah, and we are all very excited to go! There are many aspects of the trip, and in the past two days we learned how to pack our packs, ration food (Imagine: we are responsible for cooking all our own food for ourselves for two weeks! Well let you know how it goes when we return!), light a stove, and set up shelters. Overall, we cant wait for the expedition!
This week also featured introductory classes. Although each only lasted for about 45 minutes, we got a sense of the fun and learning we are in for this semester. They all seem very interesting, and our teachers seem like they are really interested in the subjects they teach. In our science class, for example, Cooper and Miriam showed us slides of creatures living around HMI. Ben and Myla also showed us slides in Spanish; in this case, however, we looked at images of Hispanic and American culture, discovering in the process how much each borrows from the other.
The week has also been filled with activities to make us feel at home at the RMS and in Leadville. We all introduced ourselves, while passing a small stone that has symbolized the beginning of each Rocky Mountain Semester, during a first night community meeting in the Yurt. A night hike to Turquoise Lake showed us how beautiful this place is. Even the past few nights sitting around the fire in cabins, talking with cabin mates, has been incredible. With students from all the corners of the country, our late night cabin bonding time around the fire has been one of the best parts of the RMS experience thus far.
Not all our bonding has been so serious, however. An evening snowball fight Saturday night brought us as close together as ever! The battle capped our first week; as it wound up, we also saw the completion of another mission. We are now a close and tight community that days ago was filled with strangers, and none of us can wait to see what that means for the semester!
Well talk to you in two weeks!
-Annie Boucher, Paul Landsberg, Michael Hamby, & Jamie Cohen
Hello everyone! We have all just about cleaned up and returned to our normal selves after our two-week expedition!
But what a trip it was. As we drove out of the mountains of Colorado and into the canyons of southeastern Utah, our faces pressed against the windows of our 15-passenger vans in awe. The red rock was something most of us had never seen before, a foreign soil. Every corner we turned during our hikes presented new sites to see; we were all amazed by something much greater then us. After spending five days hiking deep within the massive walls of Dark Canyon, we left the canyon by ascending a difficult trail that tested our limits. In the end, however, we were all surprised by how much we could accomplish. The rest of the trip included a circumnavigation of Jacobs Chair, a structure standing among the red cliffs and canyons. While we walked along the mesa, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Henry Mountains to our west. In the distance, these snow-capped mountains towered over the desert and created a beautiful sun set.
Although we backpacked through the canyon lands in the middle of February and had what seems like a ridiculous amount of fun, RMS is still a school. Throughout our expedition, we had assignments for English, history, science, and our Practices and Principles ethics class. Extensive and heated discussions occurred in debating William Cronons article on the meaning of wilderness, the problems of researching and uncovering historical truth in Use and Abuse of History, and in discovering the potential of Coyote-the Native American trickster figure. Our learning also seemed so connected to the lives we lived in the Canyons. The science field study forced us all to consider the environment around us, for example. It seemed like everything we learned directly applied to our environment.
We didnt only have academic classes, however. The faculty spent hours helping us adjust to life in the wilderness. Lessons including principles of backcountry cooking (hint: the more cheese the better!) and how to stay warm at night, a trick that was easier than many of us thought it would be (hint: think lots of cheese!) That is how classes went. As a new skill was needed, it was taught. Many of us wish that the classes at our home schools could be so relevant. Our personal favorite class, the art of backcountry pizza baking, opened a whole new world for us. After the class, cinnamon rolls, breads, fry bread, brownies and carrot cakes became part of all our menus. Oh, and methods of sanitary pot cleaning too! Proper trail safety, river crossing techniques, and Leave No Trace principles were also taught though skits and other fun means. We also had classes in communication and group evolution, which certainly comes in handy when you spend two weeks with the same 12 people in a new environment. These classes brought us together in foreign but soon familiar ways, whether over meals, rocks, rivers, or conversation, in a way signature to each expedition group. We couldnt imagine our trip without them.
The outdoors also provides us with an opportunity to bond as a community. For two weeks we lived together, learned together, laughed together, and grew together. There were many new, wonderful memories that were made. Expedition groups shared hours among hours of laughter. A few of the many hilarious moments that stick out are the many hours of Animal Kingdom, an animal impersonation game, that momentarily turned our expedition into an odd sounding zoo! And we are still talking about the costumes, such as Katies duck suit, that the faculty wore to teach classes such as backing and communication. We laughed over good meals and learned from the difficult ones. All of us shared in waking before dawn to light the stove, or leaving the tarp to tighten its strings in the rain. We helped each other pack packs, carry large loads on our back, and offered each other support during long hiking days. EB, expedition behavior, was also a key to our success as a community in the backcountry. Thanks to the multiple random acts of kindness, peoples moods remained optimistic and positive. Although it doesnt seem like much, having a warm drink brought to you before bedtime is heavenly. Our first expedition went by amazingly fast, and we thoroughly look forward to what the winter expedition has in store for us.
But first, three weeks of classes!
By Michael Lubin, Kyle Hedman, Nina Gannes, & Lia Engelsted
Hello everyone! Our first week of academics at HMI is complete; we barely have time to write with all our homework, but we miss everyone!
We arrived back from our amazing trip to the canyons of Utah last Monday morning. After being greeted by a very enthusiastic Christopher Barnes, we quickly got to work de-issuing (the process of returning, cleaning, and putting away of all the group and personal gear). After a few hours of this, we broke for lunch to taste the best food we had tasted in over two weeks! Buffalo meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a la Nancy! The mud room was then finally unlocked and we found it filled with gifts from loving (it was Valentines Day) friends and family. Thanks everyone! Next came the moment everyone was waiting for, SHOWER TIME! After a light dinner (everyone was full of candy) we went to bed, in actual beds! You would be amazed how nice a mattress feels! Our first day of classes came next. At first we found it difficult to sit through the 1.5-hour classes, but it was also rather relieving to not have to cram a lot of information into a short amount of time. The day was fun and intriguing; we played a modified game of telephone in history to understand the role bias plays in the discipline. Another highlight was Natural Science, where each section got to do a lab in which we dug snow pits and analyzed each layer of the snow pack.
Wednesday began quite normally. While most of the school headed out for a morning run, the cook crew made French toast for 40 students and faculty! A lot of bread and eggs go into feeding so many! A half hour of chores followed breakfast before students rushed to their first hour of classes. Many students discussed The Rediscovery of North America for history class and learned about angles and radians in Algebra 2. A delicious dinner of pizza and salad awaited us after the long day! It was Charlies birthday, and we celebrated by having chocolate cake with caramel and ice cream. The end of the week brought a surprise. Our math teacher, Nancy Maginn, is actually changing many of our minds about math! By the end of our first week with Nancy, all aspects of a math class that we have traditionally despised had yet to appear. Oddly, we found ourselves excited for the next math class!
We talked leadership in P&P class on Saturday, going over group decision making and evaluating various situations that presented multiple choices for proceeding. After classes, we learned how to chop the wood needed to heat our cabins. Chopping wood, for those who have never partaken in the event, is one of the more enjoyable aspects of life. The power and exhilaration one gets from splitting woodits one of the things you have to do to understand. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing laundry, something we thought we had a good understanding of until we reached the laundromat. We found that our white polypro and socks required at least 4 cycles to be restored to their immaculate pre-expedition state!
Sunday marked our first day on the slopes. It was the first time skiing for some of us; others needed a brief review and then a lesson in telemarking. Telemark skiing is a cross between downhill and cross-country skiing. You ski downhill, but with a free cross-country heel. What a workout! We started out the day gathering up equipment, finding extra layers, and packing our lunches. After a quick drive to Cooper Mountain, we divided into groups based on skill level. Plenty of laughs, lots of learning and tons of fun marked the afternoon. By the end of the day, we were all tired and extremely content. While many of us finished homework, the Sunday cook crew cooked up a HUGE Indian meal; a few of us went to have dinner with Molly and Christopher; everyone will soon have a chance at this treat!
That is all for this week. We have one more week of academics before our ski week begins!
By: Michael Kearns, Christine Downs, Emily Gasperetti, and Laura Crum
Greetings, everyone, from sunny Colorado!
We are starting to understand the routine at the RMS now. More experience doesnt lead to perfection, however. On Monday, for example, as the breakfast cook crew, we made fruit salad and coffee cake. We powered through the chopping of assorted fruits, but sadly the coffee cake was not prepared in time for breakfast and was made into a post-breakfast snack. It was cereal for breakfast instead, and the coffee cake will go in the oven earlier next time! In English, we continued our study of literature and the western myth, watching Stagecoach and discussing the image of the Ecological Indian. Later, a few of us created a new, nearly impossible route on the RMS bouldering wall entitled ROCK! The climb challenged us, and it was a great, healthy way to let off steam after a long day. On a cold Tuesday morning we went for a walk as AMX, and after a morning of classes, a few of us traveled to the Colorado Mountain College for activity period (a break in the day designed to relax our brains and refresh our bodies). We rented snowshoes, and hikes around the RMS campus quickly became a popular break in the day. Later that night, during cabin meeting, the four cabins elected their cabin representatives. The representatives will report to the faculty on student ideas and requests throughout the semester.
Wednesday began with the longest run weve done for AMX so far. The four-mile run tired us out, but we were happy with ourselves in the end! Little did everyone know that this was a special Wednseday, also known as Well-Dressed Wednesday! (The day competes with the boys Corporate Friday.) The girls dressed up in a melody of nice clothes (all borrowed from each other); the common theme with all the girls was hair done in a sideways ponytail! We spent our Spanish class at Cloud City, the local cafe, and discussed thoroughly the subjunctive tense while enjoying delicious brownies and hot white chocolate!
A nature walk opened our day on Thursday. Our science teacher, Cooper, led the walk and pointed out different animal tracks along the way. Thursday was to be an exciting day because our history classes put on trial the historian Frederick Jackson Turner. Turner was accused of misrepresenting Western history in his thesis The Significance of the Frontier in American History. Students, serving as prosecutors, defense lawyers, and witnesses, dressed in period custom and really got into their roles. One student, Maya, played the role of Mr. Federick Jackson Turner; in order to get into the role, she borrowed a tie, wore a nice button-down, and had a friend paint on a mustache! The trial (basically a debate of Turners ideas) went really well. We had a jury of 3 who deliberated for quite a while before rendering a verdict!
Friday consisted of a normal academic day. In science class we learned about how to label different animal tracks, and in history we studied the populist movement. Activities like snowshoeing (super fun) ran as normal, and for dinner we had baked potatoes. Saturday morning featured classes, followed by an optional afternoon of skiing. Most RMSers headed to Ski Cooper for some fun. Even the beginners (or never-evers, as they are called) are learning how to do telemark turns! We are all having a great time on the slopes. Saturday night was a blast, as our P&P teacher, James, took us ice-skating in town for an evening activity. We all had fun skating around, as well as playing a pick up game of broomball on skates! We were given an extra half hour of free time on Saturday night, but most of us simply fell asleep after such a long and exciting day.
On Sunday, we started off the morning by preparing for Mission Loppet. The mission was to man an aid and water station for the Leadville Loppet 44km Nordic ski race. A highlight of the race was that the RMS science/Algebra II teacher, Cooper, was competing! We were split up into three separate groups, in order to keep numbers at the station under control and to get chores done as well. While some students went to the Loppet and manned the station, the rest chopped wood and cleaned the kitchen. After a while, the two groups departed from HMI; one left to man the water station, and the other met up with the first group at the Laundromat to clean our dirty clothing (yay!). The brouhaha didnt end until the first two groups were done and departed to return to HMI. Once there, we completed the remaining chores and the fun adventure of the day was done. That evening was normal, consisting of free time and study hall. We were all excited for the coming week of half-days of school and skiing.
Monday barreled in like a runaway train. Everyone was anxious for skiing, and yet had to spend the morning in classes. Fortunately, the class was a science lab; we spent the time wandering in the snow cataloguing different animal tracks. Finally, midday arrived and we piled into the vans, all excited for a fun-filled afternoon of skiing! The students were divided by skill level; everyone then had an enlightening, educational ski experience. We all kept going until 3:15, where we piled back into the vans, satisfied through and through. We had free time for the rest of the afternoon (except for the cook crew), and most spent it either working or relaxing. That evening signaled the beginning of International Food Week, for which we had Thai as a kick off. Mmm, nothing like curry and chicken to settle ones stomach! The normal routine followed dinner, with study hall till 9:00. Tired but happy, everyone retired to their cabins for dreams of HMI sugar plums riding downhill on telemark skis!
Tuesday was the first day of March. It is hard to believe that March begins our third month at the RMS. The time flies by! Half-day classes continued as we spent the afternoon on our continued quest to become professional level (or at least serviceable!) telemark skiers! Ski Cooper Resort was the site of our training for the second day running. We have only one week of half-day skiing to prepare for the second and only winter expedition, but all the tips we received from our teachers make us confident we will be ready in time. After being divided by skill level, two teachers joined each group, watched our skiing, and offered suggestions. Many of us were amazed how quickly we progressed from the snowplow, to basic downhill (alpine) turns, and finally to the telemark turn. We all agree that that the skiing was an absolute blast, and the views from Cooper (on top of the continental divide at Tennessee Pass) were mind-blowing!
Thursday morning started out with an AMX walk through the waist high snow with the teacher Cooper. The morning was crisp and clear, and we were all ready for another day of skiing. The day was surprisingly hot; many of us stripped down to t-shirts or long underwear under our outer shells! We found that heading up the chair lift was as interesting as skiing down the mountain. The advanced class of skiers flew down the mountain, sans poles, and tele-turning like they were born on skis! We took a trip to the thrift store on Thursday afternoon to pick up clothing for the weekly Corporate Friday. We made it to the mountain for our last day of skiing on Friday with the boys decked out in their snappy suits! It was really funny to see the boys flying down the mountain in dress pants and blazers, ties flying in the wind!
An international food festival marked the entire dinner week. Jo, our amazing kitchen coordinator, had each cook crew submit international recipes for our cooking rotations. On Monday, we enjoyed Southern food; Tuesday was Italian night; Wednesday featured Japanese, Friday Greek, and Sunday Ethiopian. Each cook crew developed their recipes from favorites back home. The international week was a huge hit, especially the international desserts that each cook crew labored over each night! For those of you that do not know, we students cook dinner each night in groups of four or five. A faculty member supervises our efforts, and you would be amazed by how much we have learned about cooking! Perhaps we will be able to show off our new skills when we come home.
Saturday began with the longest run thus far at over five miles! The runs are getting easier and easier as we adjust to altitude, get in shape, and get ready for the RMS Challenge Run at the end of the semester! After Saturday classes, the student body divided into three groups that took turns shopping, laundering, and visiting town. We all got to see the annual festival of Ski Joring, where the town of Leadville fills their entire main street with huge mounds of snow. Skiers, pulled by horses, flew over the jumps! Anyone could sign up for the festival, and we saw many entertaining wipeouts! Everyone bought extra food for the winter expedition at Safeway; we then came back to campus and ate a western themed dinner with mashed potatoes and ribs.
Monday started off with field games of broomball and ultimate frisbee for morning exercises. We returned to a normal class schedule. The science classes spent our 3-hour lab period doing an awesome study of the small plants and organisms living under the snowpack in areas surrounding campus. Under the direction of our English teacher, Katie, we have begun studying the Western hero myth as demonstrated in Teewinot. We also finished writing our coyote poems that are based on Native American myth. The poems help explain any bad luck that has befallen us this semester. French work has included creating travel guides of France.
We are in the midst of unit tests know that will carry us into our second expedition! We will talk to you when we get back!
Hello everyone! We are back from our second expedition!
Our winter trip turned was quite a memorable event. Most of us have never been so challenged, or felt so much reward, in our lives. The weather was chaotic; it snowed almost every day of the trip, and temperatures reached down to 12 degrees! The amazing thing, however, was not that we survived, but the style in which we did it! Everyone came home to the RMS with huge smiles on their faces and stories to tell. Although the cold weather challenged us all, what it did it the end was force us to perfect our skills at staying warm and dry and expanded our belief in the limits of our abilities. As one of us said, Now that I know I can winter camp, I am pretty sure I can so anything!
We spent the entire expedition traveling on telemark skies and living in snow shelters, called quinzhees. Many of us thought the best part of the trip was living in and building these snow shelters. They required tons of work: each group spent an average of an hour per quinzhee pile shoveling snow into eight-foot piles. In our trap groups, we then spent the next few hours hollowing out the insides of the snow piles. The effort was definitely worth it because snow is an insulator; temperatures cannot get lower than 32 degrees inside the quinzhees! Trust us, that temperature was warm compared to the weather outside! The quinzhees also block all sound and wind, making them a great place to study, sleep, and just hang out. The most rewarding thing about the quinzhees was knowing that we created our own shelters made of only snow! We cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment we felt as we went to bed surrounded by the walls we carved earlier that day.
Traveling on skies through untouched fields of powder was also a great feeling! The skiing was some of the best we have ever done. Although many of us had trouble heading down the powdery slopes with much speed or grace, we still managed to have more fun than we would have had at any ski resort. Although some people could make it down the mountain with perfect tele-turns and grace, others, like this author, skied down in the conservative pizza wedge shape! Of course, even these slow speeds failed to prevent some really nice falls, such as the Face Plant or the Save-Yourself-Fall onto your behind. Both moves work to stop you very well, and the fall into deep powder is super comforting. Plus, they both lead to lots of laughs! If you think you have skied the roughest places and wildest hills, you have it all wrong. Until you come to the RMS, you will not experience the REAL way to ski! Imagine every slope covered with fresh powder, and the snow untracked except for the markings of the skies of your expedition mates. Such is the experience you find here at the RMS.
A major highlight of the trip was our summit of Horseshoe Mountain. The peak topped out at 13,898 ft! We began our ascent of Horseshoe on skis (with day packs and lots of yummy snacks, of course) until the slope became too steep and rocky. We then took off our skis and hiked the rest of the way up. The terrain was very rocky and slippery, but we learned how to hike safely in ski boots. Everyone worked together and supported one another, and that made the difference. At the summit, the wind and snow picked up to whiteout conditions. Everyone was so excited to have reached the summit of such a tall mountain that we hardly noticed the cold. In some ways, this event summed up our entire expedition!
This being the RMS, we also had plenty of classes on the trip. Yes, we are a school! English and science combined forces to write a chapter for a book on winter ecology. History students read several tales of early Leadville and wrote their own day-in-the-life portrait of life in the Sawatch Range. We also learned about locating an avalanche beacon buried in the snow. The beacons help locate people buried in avalanches. The faculty tested us on our beacon skills, and we were all able to locate the beacons in less than six minutes. The beacon class was really fun as it gave us a thrill to learn how to help save lives. Classes on leadership and varying leadership styles made us aware of differences among us, and the ways in which we complement each other. This class also made it easier for us to understand why the faculty made certain decisions in the field, as well as why many of us students act the way we do in certain situations.
We are back on campus now, but the lessons we learned on our winter expedition will surely help us back at the RMS and everywhere else we go.
By Pete Gossens, Andrea Foote, Sarah Morrison, and Ness Saban
Hello everyone, from a busy HMI as we prepare for Parents Weekend and spring break.
Monday began early for most of us, as we woke up on the last day of our winter expedition somewhere between 4:00 and 6:00 AM to ski the last few miles to our pick up sites. The excitement level was huge as each group arrived back at the RMS. There was screaming, hugging, and laughing as we saw each other for the first time in 12 days. It is amazing how close we have all become in such a short time. In the midst of all that excitement, the faculty frantically tried to get us back into the de-issue mode. We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning tarps, repairing stoves, taping maps, and discussing our adventures. After beautiful days skiing in the snow, surrounded by nothing more than trees and mountains, the RMS seemed densely populated. Ovens, running water (HOT WATER), heat, and especially showers seemed luxurious; clean clothes made everyone smile. It seemed hard to believe, but the faculty had homework ready for us, and study hall began that night. It was obvious we were back in full-on class mode.
Armelle took us for our morning walk on Tuesday, officially beginning classes and the return to our normal schedule (although the fact that there is always something new makes the RMS special). The teachers did their best to ease us back into a schedule. We wrote poems about our experience in English and worked on our ecological field studies for Science. The day passed quickly otherwise; we debated the merits of 16th century New World travelogues in Spanish and continued to trade pictures and stories from the trip.
Wednesday marked our first run since the expedition. We ran to the train tracks and back (4 miles). We all felt great after the run; it reminded us of how far we have come since the beginning the semester. A delicious breakfast of French toast, syrup, and more syrup followed. Classes continued and we readjusted to the academic schedule. Preparation for midterms dominated the week, and we felt the workload start to increase.
We celebrated birthdays on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was English apprentice Dawn Robinsons 26th birthday. Kyle Headman celebrated his 18th on Friday. We started Friday with a 5.9-mile run (our longest yet!) for AMX. Corporate Friday continued as usual with the boys (and this week joined by Molly and Christopher) looking their snazzy bests, a heated vocabulary game in English, math at the Coffee Shop in town, and everyone realizing all that is going on in the World during current events in History. The week ended with a great Mexican meal of fajitas. We had a chocolate butter cream cake made by Michael Lubin for Kyles birthday. AP History students had an evening class at Dannys house in town; they returned from the evening session with their stomachs full of pizza and heads swirling with facts about the Great Depression
On Saturday, everyone attended English and P&P classes, or had their college-counseling meeting with the RMSs visiting college counselors. Both classes were interesting. In English we talked about Teewinot, a book about nature and the prototypical western hero, and, in P&P, we discussed an article about social hierarchies and played a game that served to remind us of the importance of food nutrition.
At 12:00, classes were over and we were free! We did not know what to do with ourselves, as we hadnt had much free time since the expedition. That free time quickly shifted to kitchen cleaning and wood chopping before our visit to town for laundry and fun. We only had 1 hour to at the laundromat so everyone moved with lightening speed. After laundry, we enjoyed town for 45 minutes before speeding home to the RMS for dinner preparation. Following a beautiful dinner of macaroni and cheese, it was time to prepare for the event we had all been waiting for: the 80s dance! The campus was silent because everyone was focused on one taskthe one mission of the nightto get ready for the dance. The 80s dance was out of this world. Everyone was really into it and dressed for the occasion. We felt like we were in a movie, and our role was to dance into the nightI have never seen so many people wear cut-off jeans, over the shoulder shirts, and tight spandex in my life. When the time came, everyone was ready and the party began. From Madonna, to Queen, to Flock of Seagulls, the music blared all night and the feet pounded all evening. That was a Saturday I will never forget!
Sunday morning a group of fourteen students jumped into a van heading for Buena Vista and Easter Mass. As we arrived, we found an empty town. The church was far from empty, however, and we found it full and the building beautifully decorated. The service was a great chance to experience something traditional for some students, and something new for others. After the service ended, we set out to find a brunch location. We ended up filling a small restaurant (they were glad to see us!). For two hours, we found ourselves eating as much as our bodies could possibly handle, and soon found ourselves unable to get up. Once we could move again, we walked around the small town of Buena Vista. The downtown consisted of 6 closed antique shops. The Radio Shack was open, however, and we could not resist their main display, straw cowboy hats. We thus left town, ready for the week before Parents Weekend, overstuffed, modern cowboys!
We are busy getting ready for the big weekend now, and cant wait to see you all on Friday!
It is warm and sunny in Leadville. Spring is finally here!
Much has happened since our last report. The week before Parents Weekend was an intense one! In anticipation of our midterm reports and meeting with our parents, teachers piled on work. Just like any exam week, plenty of school work met us at every turn. During the week, we wrote essays, took tests and quizzes, completed projects, and scribbled various worksheets just under deadlines. We had big tests in Spanish and in both AP and US History. In French, Armelle kept us busy with a special project for Parents Weekend. We had the heavy burden of successfully translating French recipes into delicious desserts for our parents to sample! Anxious moments in the kitchen paid off, however, and we produced treats that made everyone happy. It was intense and hard, and some even pulled a few all-nighters, but all work got done, and in time for a great surprise. Molly walked into the dining hall on Thursday morning with an announcement: school was cancelled for the day, and the RMS was going skiing! After the cheers died down, we piled into vans for a beautiful day at Ski Cooper. We could feel the stress fall away with every run we took!
Parents Weekend preparation actually began well before our parents arrived. The prep was all about cleaning! We did an extra-thorough job on our chores on Friday morning, and tried hard not to make a mess during the day (a surprisingly hard task)! A second half hour of chores followed in the evening before we all to Molly and Christophers house to meet our parents, who had begun their weekend with a reception there. We could not wait to see our families and show them how much we have accomplished in just two months! After dinner with our parents, a roaring fire, smores, and hot drinks awaited our families at the RMS fire circle. A talent show ensued, and the night ended as students and teachers performed skits and songs and read sample work from our classes.
The weekend continued with a full day on Saturday. An incredible breakfast started the day, and our parents joined us for special classes. Although the classes were only 30 minutes long, the teachers did a great job of giving our parents an idea of what our classes are like. We read poetry in English, and our parents had an opportunity to see (and adjust!) the quadrant of the leadership grid in which we place ourselves in P&P. Sometimes funny disagreements arose between our parents and us as to where we stood! In science, we performed interpretive dances of plate tectonics with our parents as partners. We had another fantastic meal that evening (thanks Joh!); the French desserts and a very entertaining slide show of the semester followed. All in all, Parents Weekend was great fun, and a big success!
We returned to the RMS after Spring Break last Wednesday. We spent three hours on Thursday morning (after the usual morning exercise, breakfast and chores, of course) in the East Building. Sprawled on the floor, we chose our final expedition groups and planned food and gear for our last trip. It was no doubt exciting as we will be on our own this time. The faculty feels we have learned enough to plan our own trips and travel alone. They will trail behind us, but we are in charge of everything. Planning for this trip showed us how much we have learned and how much independence we have developed. After wolfing down lunch, we were back in the classroom to begin our wilderness first aid training. The two-day class was filled with laughter for the famous Buck Tilton (a wilderness medicine god) taught the class with much humor. On Saturday, we finished up the medical training and came out with huge amounts of new confidence for wilderness exploration. Thanks to our training, we can perform CPR, check vital signs, and set broken bones and sprains with the equipment we carry with us into the backcountry. Saturday night was great; we came back from town after a laundry and food run, and some of us watched movies while others learned Tae-kwando from our masterful teacher and fellow student, Andii.
Early Sunday morning, students reported to the main building at 6:45 am for a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. After the breakfast we headed to the vans for a 2 hour van ride for a college tour of Colorado College. After an hour-long session with college alumni, during which the alumni talked to us about all of the great aspects of the school, including the block schedule, students split up into two separate groups for tours of the campus. We returned to the RMS for a special event. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of ribs, beans, corn on the cob, salad, and zucchini bread. The zucchini bread began the RMS annual Bake Off in which each cook crew bakes a different dessert that we judge for presentation, taste and nutrition. Everyone was dressed for the meal in their finest western attire for a Square Dance followed the meal! Everyone had an amazing time at the dance, hooting, hollering and dancing all over Whos Hall. It didnt matter if students had no idea how to square dance because a caller taught us all the moves. The music was great, and the Square Dance compared in fun to last months legendary 80s dance!
It is hard to believe, but our next update will be after the final expedition!
Hello everyone! We have returned from our third expedition, and now we only have four weeks here left.
We are sure, by now, that you have all heard that it is almost impossible to put the RMS experience into words. Even pictures cannot explain what we have seen during our time in Colorado. Our third expedition only added to the trove of memories and experiences that we will take with us forever. The independence and concurrent responsibility that all of us experienced on this expedition are even harder to put into words. We sensed the responsibility of our task before we even left for Utah. The issue day on campus went smoothly and the student expedition leaders (SELs) began to exercise their new roles. Amanda, Paul, Evan, and Hannah, the SELs, organized classes, made route plans, and helped to keep their peers in line. Of course, everyone also worked together, took on lots of responsibility and perfected our leadership in those first days. The faculty stepped back and let us run all elements of the day.
After two days with the faculty on the trail in Utah, during which they judged our readiness to travel independently and taught the necessary classes for us to succeed on our own, we were pronounced fit to set off. For five days, we hiked and camped as a group of friends without faculty leaders, taking on the jobs of navigator, leader of the day, and friendly support provider. As amazing as this sounds, we woke up before seven oclock each morning without the prompting of adults! After a great breakfast (we are pros at the camp stove now) and glance at the map (who knew how much the different contour lines can tell you?), we started out.
Our days on the trail averaged about four 4 miles of hiking and took about 5 hours to complete. One group did get confused, however, and hiked 10 miles in a single day! The mistake is one of the reasons the RMS is so great. Everyone got through the day, learned to deal with a consequence directly related to their mistake, and supported one another with great cheer. The weather on the trip proved to be another surprise! Like every expedition this semester, Mother Nature has delivered the unexpected. Instead of a dry, warm expedition, the wet spring in the Canyons forced us to undertake up to twenty stream crossings in a single day! We hiked with wet boots for the entire expedition, but learned to live happily with something we would never tolerate back home.
After our hiking days, we pulled off our wet boots and lay out on our sleeping bags in the sunshine, staring out at the towering canyon walls around us. We then remembered that the RMS is a school! For P&P, we read Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee, and Katie, our English teacher, assigned us Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. We wrote an essay on acceptable environmental impacts of native peoples in history and completed a field study for science.
Several unexpected adventures also marked the trip. Our Wilderness First Aid class came in handy as we handled perfectly a passing lightening storm and cared for routine daily injuries. On the last day, everyone hiked about three miles, often to the rim of a canyon. One group hiked reached the rim in time to see the sunrise on the mesa. Purple, pink, and blue clouds encircled the peaks in the distance and rimmed the canyons as we proudly looked back on what we had hiked. During the groups final circle (a time to reflect on the days adventures), which took place immediately before we finished the trip by hiking to the vans in silent appreciation, its members summed up their experience in only three words. Well finish with the themes a few of use used to describe the expedition:
Dot, Friends, Brownies.
Cant Find Words.
Coolest People Ever.
Never Really Leave.
Stars, Sun, Moon.
Happiness, Friendship, Forever.
Sunrise, Friends, Life.
This week marked our first week back on campus after the third expedition. Our cabin representatives had proposed during the last faculty meeting to make the Tuesday after our return from Utah free from classes, and the faculty accepted the proposal! Thus we enjoyed a day off after the de-issue day; we got some R & R as Ben, the faculty on duty, allowed us to sleep in until 8:30 (yes 8:30 AM), although AMX was still mandatory. The girls found the boys trip to the Laundromat to be the perfect time to prank their cabins! After surreptitiously removing all of the mattresses from their cabins, the girls then remade the boys beds, as if nothing was missing. The girls then assembled all 14 mattresses into a huge pile in the yurt. Content with their accomplishment, the girls ran up to the main building and devoured lunch before heading off to the Laundromat. Afraid that the boys would discover the prank and then seek revenge, the girls rushed back to the RMS in time for activities.
Everyone divided up for either sign language, yoga, or a relaxing run. As usual, the Tuesday activities were very successful. At 4:00, the AP History students were lucky (or unlucky) to get in an hour and a half class (on our day off!) to review for their upcoming and dreaded AP exam. At 6:00, dinner was served. Ben pushed study hall back til 8:00 so we could take full advantage of the sunlight. It was good to have the time to let out all our energy (especially since our metabolism were revved up from the recent expedition), but the study time was much needed. Then off to our cabins for bed (althought cabin 3 did have a dance party to release their extra energy). The relaxing day was much needed and very successful.
Wednesday was the first day of classes since the Grand Gulch expedition! It began with a run, as usual, and we ran the 6 mile loop. All our teachers are gearing up for the final push, and there were essays to be drafted in English and novels, completely written in Spanish, to be read for Ben. Fortunately, the girls noticed that the boys had not yet returned the favor of the girls prank, which actually terrified them even more! All in all, however, the day was short and sweet as nothing extremely out of the ordinary occurred. After all the excitement of the expedition, the day returned us to our normal routine.
The end of this week was full of AP testing. The AP English test was on Thursday, and was taken by about five students. Proctored by Jo in the upper classroom, the test went straight through lunch, to the distress of those taking it. However, most people taking the test were satisfied by how well they thought they had performed. Thursday night featured another experiment. The student representatives had brought a second proposal to the last faculty meeting: to take advantage of the long days, the student reps proposed starting and ending study hall half an hour later each day. The faculty also accepted this proposal, but with strings attached, and study hall now goes from7:30 to 9:30. Take note, those who wish to call us! People are now tossing frisbees outside behind the Main Building or taking walks after dinner to enjoy the daylight before study hall.
Friday morning: the AP US History exam. The whole class, with the encouragement of the rest of the student body, spent four hours filling in bubbles and writing essays. All in all, everyone seemed happy with the results. Immensely relieved when the test was over, they celebrated by going into town and having a root beer float party/snow ball fight (in 60 degree weather!) in Dannys back yard. That night study hall ended early so that we could get sleep in time for the SATs on Saturday.
On Saturday we woke up early (6:00 AM!), pencil and calculators in hand, and loaded into the van for the hour drive to Salida and the SATs. After a few hours of the testing, we took advantage of the new scenery and explored the town of Salida. It was an interesting town: one shop advertised Guns, Jewelry, and Music on the front windows; everyone found the sign quite funny! After returning to the RMS, we had dinner and gathered back in the van to go see a movie in Leadville; we filled up most of the theater! Everyone enjoyed the terribly humorous movie.
Sunday activity this week was a treat. In most parts of the country, people have put away their skis, but not in Colorado! So all the students headed to Arapahoe Basin, the highest ski are in the country, for some great spring skiing. The terrain was difficult, but many days of practice at Ski Cooper and in the back country had us ready! Believe it or not, a blizzard hit the ski area while we were there; at times the snow fell so hard that we couldnt see 10 yards in front of us! It was great to be skiing on May 8th and still enjoy conditions that resembled the middle of February. The great day, however, put a wrap on an adventure filled ski season.
For our Monday science lab we turned in our mini posters on upstream and downstream effects of cleaning products we use at the RMS, and then drove over to Buena Vista to visit a rammed-earth house. The house was built by a man named Read (who built the whole structure with his friends) by using a technique of compacting dirt to form walls. His home is completely off the electric grid, and Read creates his own electricity through wind, solar, and (coming soon!) hydro power. The AP history class (still recovering from the test) watched a couple episodes of The West Wing. It was interesting to see a dramatic representation (discussions of the 25th Amendment and American policy towards Cuba and China) of the government we have been studying. Dinner was the kickoff of Home Cooking Week; our appetites were treated to Kendells odd beef-salsa concoction. We report on the rest of Home Cooking Week in our next update.
Here is our report from this week in our all-too-quickly moving semester.
On Tuesday, we began researching information for our final history papers on the topic of our choice relating to the American West. At six pages, this project will be the longest research paper many of us have written. Danny is fortunately helping us along by making us revise theses and write outlines. The papers are worth about 25% of our final grade, so we all started right away with our research.
The more important issue on our minds last Tuesday, however, was the Ultimate Frisbee game that would take place late Tuesday afternoon: teachers vs. students. A lot of trash talk had preceded the match, and both sides offered many promises of victory. The students prepared for a war while the teachers kept a cool attitude, taking our taunts with a grain of salt. Finally the moment came. As we scheduled the match during the last part of faculty meeting, the students had a half hour to get pumped up on the field while the faculty took care of their teacher duties. United as a student group, we raised flags and applied war paint, ready for the ultimate revolution. We were so confident, we were so ready, and we knew all along that this was our time to shine.
Then the match began. An hour later, the game ended at 7-4 with the teachers stealing the game. The devastation among the students that we assumed would ensue had we lost this match of epic proportions never occurred because it had been by far one of the most entertaining moments of RMS 14 to date. Besides, the students were the true victors in the end for we managed to douse our beloved Molly P. Barnes, leader of the teacher clan, with over 100 ounces of ice cold water at the end of the game. It was a great day.
The RMS days can be so varied. Many of us are not sure if we have ever been to a place where we can have fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, take regular classes in the morning, volunteer at an elementary school after lunch, ride a one speed bike for a six mile loop before dinner, and serenade a teacher before bed. Last Thursday, we filled another day with activities we never could have experienced at our home schools. As with every Thursday, about thirteen students went over to the elementary school in town to work with students on their reading and math skills. To our dismay, the math skills last week stumped many of us because we missed the wording of the problems, skimming them over as our speed reading for the SAT has taught us! It was certainly a lesson, seeing all of the fourth graders point out that, in fact, we had missed nouns and numbers that changed the problem because we were too busy hurrying through our lives!
Molly has asked us to take a similar lesson to heart. This idea of taking our time became a theme for the end of the week, especially during announcements on Friday. Molly made a Going Home, Part One speech regarding being deliberate during these final days. She suggested being deliberate in making our summer plans and in treating our peers well, neither of which we can do if we are too focused on our hurried lives. The evening before, Cabin 3 was quite deliberate in creating entertainment for the faculty on duty checking us in for the evening. We serenaded good ole Christian as he came into our cabin, establishing ourselves as Christians first cabin serenaders. We even had a choreographed dance! We finished Friday evening off differently with our school work as we very deliberately wrote two papers on two books we have read in P&P and English, Encounters with the Archdruid and Teewinot. Overall, we have followed the elementary school and Mollys advice and we are taking our time, being deliberate, and having an amazing time doing both.
Saturday was the epitome of a typical Saturday at the RMS. In the morning, we went for a run around the loop (with the exception of those on cook crew) and had morning classes. We had our first P&P class in about a month, and James presented us with a quiz on John McPhees Encounters with the Archdruid. We then proceeded to have a lively discussion on ethics and morals, and what defines them. We were divided into groups and given situations where we would have to use our ethics and morals to determine a course of action. One example of a dilemma is: Your two good friends, Paul and Mary, are dating. You find out that Paul has been cheating on Mary. Do you tell Mary? Obviously not the most complicated dilemmas, but they mirrored what we might find going through every day life. English class was dominated by work on our non-critical essays, which we are writing and self publishing in the tradition of City Lights and McSweeneys of the Beat Generation. After lunch came the ever-popular wood chopping. Those of us who were leaving earlier for town got first pick on axes and went wild. Cabin 4, on account of winning cabin inspection for two consecutive months, earned a reward of a pizza dinner at Mollys house. In their excitement, they nicely agreed to haul all the chopped wood for us. We then departed for town, some heading for the laundromat and others to the shops and restaurants. After we had our fill of watching clothes turn around in the washer and prowling Harrison Avenue, we went back to HMI, where we had a delicious meal of southern fried chicken. After dinner, we went for a walk around the now defrosting and beautiful Turquoise Lake. After the walk, which took about an hour, we went back to HMI and either relaxed for the remainder of the evening or played a few rousing games of Rafter Ball. Rafter Ball is an RMS-invented game that is taking the world (or at least the campus) by storm!
This Sunday we had one of the best activities yet. Everyone was excited because for the first time all semester we were going rock climbing on real rock Katie allowed us to sleep in until 9:30, and we enjoyed an awesome brunch of muffins, fruit, and chocolate croissants. Then we headed out to Buena Vista for an awesome day of climbing. James, Joh, Katie, Dawn, and Wes all helped the climbers by belaying for us on all three faces. Everyone took turns climbing all levels of walls, and while we waited we went bouldering. We felt exhausted after the amazing day of climbing, but cook crew went to work upon our return to HMI and made delicious white bean chili, thanks to Emily. We also had pie for Sarahs birthday! Dinner was excellent and we were ready to dive head first into our last week of classes this semester. On Monday, we had our last Science lab, which was really cool and sad at the same time. We went to a controlled burn site and learned about forest fires. All of the students here are getting ready for the hardest part of this semester along with some of the most exciting. We can look forward to our Solos and Project Day, but these events bring the sad truth that this semester is almost over.
Our last update will be toward the end of next week.
Hello everyone! Welcome to our last update of RMS 14! Well be home before many of you read this! This last week was full of final exams and last minute bonding.
Last Thursday night was one the boys will surely never forget. The girls of Cabin 4 pulled the last prank of the semester, under the careful supervision of faculty sponsor Ben. Dressed up as clowns, with wigs and face paint, the girls invaded the boys cabins at 3:00 in the morning! The boys have a phobia of clowns, so when they awoke to to the sound of Pop Goes the Weasel and 11 clowns prancing though their cabins, the boys reaction was not to forget! Cabin 4 would like to thank sponsor Ben for getting up so early to help us out!
Friday was Project Day!! Split up into several stations, the faculty and students worked hard all day, clearing brush, duffing the campus, staining the cabins, building bird houses, setting up the solar panels, and hanging framed pictures around the buildings. We worked from 9:00 to 12:30 then broke for lunch. Joh went all out with lox, fresh fruit, and juice! The lunch refreshed us, and, by 1:30, we were back at work. It was a hot day in Leadville so we were all excited when Molly surprised us with ice cream sandwiches. By 5:30, we were all exhausted and filthy; it was another good day at the RMS.
Saturday was the routine, wood chopping, town time, laundry, and Safeway. Everyone purchased their last souvenirs from Leadville since it would be our last trip into town. We also enjoyed a carbo-loading dinner of pasta and bread in preparation for the Fun Run on Sunday and watched movies and played rafter ball until 10:00.
Sunday we slept in until 9:00. We were all pumped with anticipation for the First Annual RMS Fun Run. It began at around 11:15. The course went from HMI and did a loop around town, ending back at HMI for a total run of 9.3 miles. The faculty set up three aid stations along the way complete with water and cheering faculty. Christian and Cooper drove around taking pictures and giving water! We were all in high spirits until the end. With a 100% finish rate, we were ecstatic. Some even continued after the finish to the Ass Ranch and back, making the run 10 miles at 10,000 feet! We had never run nearly so far, and felt so good about ourselves! The rest of the day was dedicated to sleeping and studying for our three days of finals.
Monday morning, Cooper and Nancy handed out math tests on material ranging from algebra to trigonometry to pre-calculus and even a little bit of calculus. Nancys students had a surprise waiting for them at the end of their test: we all got a page of extra credit questions on anything that had come up in class that was not related to math. This was a great way to remember some very strange conversations wed had in class all semester!
For the P&P final exam Monday afternoon, James and Laurie set up several stations all around campus, each manned by a different teacher or apprentice. James set us loose for a few hours with a grading sheet, and we had to go to each station, perform the task and receive a grade from the faculty manning that station. The tasks were practical skills that we had practiced throughout the semester, such as lighting a stove, tying knots, splinting bones, identifying features on a map and many others. It was a great way to spend a beautiful day outside and a good conclusion to our outdoor experience.
For science, Cooper created a hybrid project-test. He and Miriam asked each student to choose an endangered species located in either their home state, Colorado, or another special area. We were given a set of questions and four days to research the answers on the Internet and in books around campus. The project concluded on Tuesday morning when we went into our science exam, and Cooper presented us with a test that we completed based on our research.
Other classes had finals as well. Ben and Armelle offered traditional finals in Spanish and French, and in history Danny divided us into groups of three for discussions that he and Wes moderated. Danny presented us with quotations from various historians relating to their ideas of the American West; using our knowledge from the semester, we had to offer our opinions on the validity of the quotations. Katies English projects also helped us with closure. We self-published essays on our growth throughout this semester. Many of our publications are really interesting; make sure you ask to see them when we get home!
Solo began promptly after the foreign language finals ended. After three hours of testing, we were all ready for it. Everything leading up to solo happened so quickly, as
did the entire RMS. We ate lunch, James issued our solo tarps and food, we packed our packs, and were on our way. We all piled into the now familiar white vans and drove to the San Isabel National Forest, only fifteen minutes away from HMI.
Then it began. Walking along the fire road, at any time we could choose a sight and begin our solo. All we had to do was place a marker flag with our name on it by the road, and we were off. Here we would receive food and water drop offs the following day. The sunny days hovered around 68 with a cool breeze. The nights dropped down to freezing, but we had been trained. Weather like this no longer fazed us. The days were pleasant, full of, well, whatever we wanted. There were only two requisites: 1) we had to put our flags back up after the faculty dropped off our food ration in order to acknowledge we were OK, and 2) we each wrote our full circle presentation to be given on Saturday. Full circle is the equivalent of a graduation ceremony for the RMS. To give the RMS a sense of closure, we each give a ten minute presentation to the community on our experiences this semester.
We began the RMS in a Circle, repeated the Circle process all throughout our expeditions, and thus it is appropriate to conclude the RMS in a circle. After Full Circle, we will adjourn to Whos Hall for a final slide show. Our flights home on Sunday morning will mark that end of a semester we will never forget, but will still be with us always.