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News from RMS XV
Click on a date to read an update from the students of RMS XV:
Greetings from our first week in Colorado!
Although only a short period of time has passed since RMS XV began on Tuesday, everyone is already getting along. It took a little longer than expected to bring everyone together because of late arrivals and airport mishaps, the entire group has come together quickly. Even with the varying interests and personalities, everyone has a common desire to grow as a person and tackle new challenges. After all, that is why we are at the RMS!
The long-awaited semester began with a stint at the airport as we collected our luggage and continued with a two-hour van ride of music swapping and small talk. After experiencing the thrills of seeing the mountains, passing through Leadville, and spotting the HMI sign for the first time, Molly welcomed us at the entrance to Whos Hall. When we all had eaten a delicious dinner cooked by Joh, we began to settle into our cabins. There are two boys cabins and two girls cabins, though the boys seem to have an edge in terms of shelf space; there are only eleven boys while there are twenty-two girls this semester! Even so, everyone has settled in and doing very well.
Although we would love to think that the RMS is purely a backpacking/outdoor camp, it is primarily a school. At the RMS, five classes are required; however, the majority of the students take six. All students enroll in: Practices and Principles: Ethics of the Natural World (its a mouthful, so we call it P&P), Natural Science, and Literature of the Natural World. Students then choose between US History or AP US History for history requirements, Advanced and Intermediate Spanish or French, and between Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus for math.
P&P focuses on methods of coexisting with our surrounding environment. Natural Science combines a bit of biology, chemistry, and physics to understand the processes of nature. Literature examines the American West, covering everything from the cowboys of Hollywood westerns to the Jack Kerouac Beats. Danny announced in history that his focus is more on what we (the students) think about events that have passed, and less on textbooks and their interpretation of those events (although there is plenty of that, too). The various language classes center on acquiring the knowledge needed to immerse yourself in the respective foreign cultures. Math, being math, is a more traditional class, but most of us still expect to enjoy it.
The faculty plans all classes so that we might take full advantage of the unique environment we are in. These classes are also structured so that we will be able to integrate ourselves back into our home schools with little difficulty. In the few days before our first expedition, we had meetings with all of the teachers of our respective classes. Each teacher was excited and invigorated to teach his or her class, and we are actually (gasp) looking forward to returning from Wyoming and starting school!
Outside of classes, life is good and we have enjoyed some wonderful bonding experiences! On Tuesday night, everyone (including faculty) gathered in the Yurt for First Circle. After an explanation from Molly Barnes (our head of school), we began by passing around a power object, which was a stone used for the first faculty circle before the first RMS. When the stone was in someones hand, no one could speak except the person holding the power object. As it moved around the circle, we spoke our name and mentioned what we were feeling or thinking at that moment. By the time the stone reached the last person, we all realized that we were feeling similarly. We were excited beyond belief, but we were also nervous about what lies ahead. We closed circle and returned to our new homes in the cabins for our first night as RMS XV.
We congregated on Wednesday morning in the Upper Classroom for the Rules Talk with Molly. The rules are tough, but seem manageable. Wednesday evening, after the last two students had arrived, saw us gather again as a group in Whos Hall; Molly asked us to write down two things on two separate scraps of paper. The first was an expectation we had about the semester, and the second was a fear involving RMS. Once she collected them all in two cups, we moved to the fire circle. She passed around the cups, and we took both an expectation and a fear from the piles. She asked us to read them aloud and then throw the fear and expectation into the fire, to be turned into ash and smoke. It was comforting to watch our fears burn away into nothingness, as we all know they will do as the semester progresses. Thursday evening, the students, along with Cooper (our science teacher) and Sarah (the P & P apprentice) took a hike to Turquoise Lake, a beautiful place that we can hike to in small groups once we understand the way. It was a lovely hike, with breathtaking views of the mountains all along the way.
Because our first expedition starts on Saturday, we have spent most of Thursday and Friday getting ready to go on trail. RMS XV is going to the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming; we will be the first RMS group to backpack there! Molly and James split our semester into three different hiking groups that will travel to different areas in the Wind Rivers. These hiking groups are then subdivided into four tarp groups that will sleep and cook together. To get our groups prepared we have rationed out food, learned how to work the stoves, set up tarps and (gulp) packed it all into our packs!! Everyone agrees that rationing out food was the most fun, as it involved sawing pieces of cheese off of giant blocks of Monterrey jack and cheddar, bagging cocoa powder and candy bars, and imagining all of the great things well be eating on trail. Packing the packs was the most difficult task for most, but even though we werent sure it would happen, everyone managed to fit their gear in their packs. As the preparation winds down, everyone has been getting more and more excited for the trip, and were all positive that its going to be a great expedition!
Hello everyone! We are back from our first expedition and already changed in so many ways!
For the first time in RMS history, our first expedition was in the Wind River Mountain Range of Wyoming, and everything was beautiful. We were lucky enough that almost every single day was brilliantly sunny (we had to remember to reapply constantly sun block), and only showers marred the overcast days. By the end, the faculty was hoping for rain to help us improve our camping skills! A vast, flat desert surrounds the Wind River Range, and we had to hike for a couple of days before we actually reached the mountains. Upon first seeing the range, however, all the miles we had
hiked were completely worth it. The large mountains featured jagged peaks with snow covering some of the summits. Glaciers carved out the mountains and surrounding area long ago, and we hiked through amazing treeless areas that were caused by the scars left by the glaciers. The mountains held enough snow that we even ended up having a snow ball fight! Our expedition made a giant circle through the mountains, where we hiked and summited two peaks, and then came all the way back around. The entire trip finished with us hiking just under 50 miles! We all had a couple of harder days that tested everyones limits but, working together, we all made it through. Not only did we feel good after our tough days, but cooking dinner with a view of the magnificent Mt. Gieke and Mt. Bonneville made our efforts worth it.
In the beauty of our surroundings, we were able to forget many things, but one fact that the faculty did not let us forget is that the RMS is a school. Our classes were conducted very differently than many of us are used to. In P and P, we discussed the controversial ideas of wilderness put forth by the leading historian William Cronan. Using our own experiences of ten days in the backcountry, we were able to refute and support Cronans ideas in ways we never would have been able to do at home. We had interesting discussions on articles and stories we read for English and History. Katies English assignment included personal reflections and readings by various authors, including Jack London, which illustrated various experiences and ideas of wilderness. Again, after being in the wilderness ourselves, we had such a greater understanding of the authors points of view. Dannys history assignment forced us to consider where our history comes from and who makes it. Science class, and the field studies of plants and animals in the Wind Rivers that Cooper assigned us, was also awesome because we were really able to embrace our surroundings and learn about everything that was around us.
Not only did we have academic classes for our schoolwork, but we had interesting practical classes that helped us learn about survival in the backcountry. The best classes were the baking classes. We learned how to make yeast dough in order to bake pizza, cinnamon rolls, and bread. Many of us cooked more advanced meals over our one-burner stoves than we ever have at home! Other classes included LNT (Leave No Trace), weather, and wildlife classes. In LNT, we learned about the basic seven principles in order to respect the environment and its inhabitants. The weather classes were really interesting because they helped us understand when we had to waterproof our packs. We also learned about the existence of bears in the Wind Rivers; because of the lessons, we learned how to avoid unpleasant encounters! Communication, map reading and leadership classes filled our practical curriculum. We learned some really beneficial conflict resolution skills (VOEMPing) that helped us get along better and work more effectively in our expedition groups, back on campus, and in all areas of our lives. Because of the awesome classes we had in the backcountry, we were able to have fun (with pizza and other baked goods) and stay healthy!
In addition to the environment and classes, the group aspect of the first expedition was awesome. The trip was an opportunity for everyone to get to know one another really well! We lived in tarp groups of three or four, sleeping under a tarp at night and cooking meals for one another through out the day. At first the meals may have been a little rough, but after our baking class and a little experience we began whipping up amazing meals. As we progressed through the Wind River Range, more comical sides of people began to come out. For instance, our faculty alter egos, DJ SneakyPants and MC SlicSlacks, the two British MCs who visited to teach a class from time to time, are unforgettable. The Circles, during which we shared our ideas, most embarrassing moments, and favorite stories, and the hiking days, during which we laughed, suffered together and helped each other will help make our semester great. The trip expedition was amazing, and over all we came together as a close group, laughing, learning, and experiencing the beautiful Wind River Mountain Range.
Our first weekend back on campus just flew by. We all took a two-day Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course and a four-hour CPR certification class. The classes started last Friday afternoon and ran from nine until six on Saturday and Sunday. Our instructors were very nice and tried to make even the hard (and sometimes boring) concepts fun. One of our favorite parts was when we got to play-act a medical scenario. Some of the students acted as patients and the rest of us served as rescuers, trying to help our injured friends. The patients even got fake blood and bruises where they were hurt! The WFA course was difficult, but we all agreed that we learned a lot and had fun at the same time. The skills that we now know will certainly come in handy if we are ever in an emergency situation in the wilderness. For example, we can make splints out of shirts and sticks, help someone with hypothermia, and even set create a traction splint for a broken femur from nothing but what we normally carry with us!
On the Saturday night of the WFA course, the faculty surprised us with a trip into Leadville to watch a movie. The theater is very small, and we just about filled it. The movie, Red Eye, was a lot of fun to watch, especially because almost everyone screamed at the really scary part. The movie was our first introduction to Leadville; after two weeks in the field, it was great to experience civilization. All in all, it was a fun but exhausting weekend.
Classes (those taught in the classroom, not on an expedition) began last Monday. That morning began with a morning exercise session of Ultimate Frisbee. Also another group started their first cook crew for morning breakfast. Both of these activities really wake you up, and seem to be a great way to start off the morning. Next, one section of science visited the aspen grove near HMI for a three-hour lab. Cooper led an informative class amidst changing colors before the class walked back towards school through a lodge pole pine forest that surrounds campus. Afternoon classes included history, where students led a discussion of the Barry Lopez book, the Rediscovery of North America. In the second history class, Danny led a game of historical telephone to illustrate how what we know as history changes over time. In math, each class started with a project to determine the volume of HMIs yurt (the location of our community meetings); additionally, we determined how many times over we would have to refill the yurt before disposing of the trash produced from the last Phish concert.
On Tuesday, we had our first Activity Period, during which many people participated in a boot camp put on by the apprentices. The boot camp consisted of a series of demanding physical activities that wore us out! Other students signed up for a book making class or went to the driving range to hit golf balls. Throughout the semester, there will be three Activity Periods per week; during activity, we will be able to take a break from the academic classes (important since we are in class until 5:30!) and enjoy de-stressing activities. Our free time at the RMS is scarce as classes move into dinner and then a two-hour mandatory study hall (six nights per week!). Consequently, we are learning to take advantage of the time between the end of study hall at 9:00 and when we have to be in our cabins at 9:45. Most students have enjoyed listening to music out on the porch in the beautiful evening air or perhaps participating in a massage train, Both are always great ways to end the day!
The end of the week calmed down as we got used to the schedule on campus and are started assimilating to the heavy work load of our classes. In English, we have started to watch the movie Stagecoach as part of our current studies of the American Frontier. In addition, we have analyzed the medias portrayal of the American West on advertisements and photo spreads. Katie has led many class discussions on the mythical figure of cowboys, the implications of the Natives stereotype, and the womens role on the frontier. In addition, we played our first vocabulary game of the semester. Throughout the semester, Katie will test us on SAT vocabulary once a week; we will play the vocabulary game on the day prior to the quiz to prepare us for it. At the end of the semester, the winning team will be rewarded with a brownie party thrown by the rest of the class.
In Science, we have been going on field trips that directly relate to our classroom work on the ecology of the area. Last week, for example, we studied succession and looked at the local ecosystem to find examples of retrogressive and progressive communities.
In AP History, we took our first chapter quiz on the early colonial settlements of the North and the South. We have participated in many interesting class discussions, and we even reenacted the colonists settlement patterns by creating a human map of the southern, middle, and northern colonies. Danny gave of clues that characterized various aspects of each settlement to help us make the map. In math class with Nancy and Karl, we measured the height of Whos Hall using trigonometrical tangents. During activity period on Thursday, some of us visited the local elementary school, where we helped 4th graders with math problems. The experience was incredibly enriching both for the 4th graders and the RMS students.
We celebrated Kristins and Jakes birthdays on Friday and followed the celebrations with a delicious meal of home-made pasta; we then enjoyed two birthday cakes for dessert! After dinner, we all gathered in a circle and played a thrilling game of YeeHaw during which we all passed many YeeHaws around the circle!
Saturday was quite an exciting day; we played an assortment of tag games during AMX and filled ourselves with an awesome strawberry coffee cake afterwards for breakfast. James ironically discussed nutrition and the dangers of over-eating in P&P class! After lunch, Operation Suds n Duds commenced; our first trip to the laundry mat came not a moment too soon! Clothes were flying, soap was flying, and we were flying. What do you expect with 33 bags of dirty expedition clothes that needed to be washed in 75 minutes? As our clothes made their way through the washing machines, we headed over to the local Safeway to stock up on as much food as we could fit in our cabins.
Saturday night saw us students climbing on the rock wall and watching the award-winning Shrek 2. On Sunday, we got some much needed sleep before driving to Buena Vista to go climbing. After our time on the indoor rock wall, the change to climbing outside was amazing! Everyone climbed all day, had tons of fun and made it back in one piece! Overall it was a pretty good weekend and we came back ready for classes on Monday.
Classes are in full throttle here at the RMS. Last Tuesday was the normal jumble of history, science, math, language and English. Before we could attend any classes, we went on our first woods-loop run, a 3.5 mile run through the woods. It was our longest run to date, but we all did very well. With the aspen trees in full foliage bloom, the scenery distracted us from the run! In English, we finished watching Stagecoach, a western featuring John Wayne that helped us understand cultural views of the Western Cowboys and Indian. Cooper concentrated on succession in Science class. Succession deals with the way an eco-system changes over time. In History, Danny we discussed the idea of the Ecological Indian, as well as the role of Native Mericans in colonial America. Our activity period presented an array of choices including Ultimate frisbee and rock climbing. A delicious dinner of tacos (fish or bison) with all the fixins followed.
Wednesday was a full day for many of us. This is the one day on which there are five classes and no activity period. AMX was a brisk walk with our beloved English teacher, Katie. P+P class also meets on Wednesday, and this particular class was very interesting. We participated in one of three nutritional debates: the merits of organic farming vs. traditional farming, the strengths of a vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian diet, and the issue of global vs. local farming. The debates were very realistic, and managed to become quite heated, despite the fact that 2 of the anti-vegetarian diet representatives were actually vegetarians! Dinner (a combination of vegetarian and meat offerings!) was a delicious pasta with a selection of sauces. Our week was rolling along in good cheer.
English class met in the yurt on Thursday, and we shared poems and our ideas about them. Cooper assigned us our mammal projects in science; over the weekend, we investigated mammals present in the local ecosystem. We will display our posters next week, in time for our trip into the backcountry for our second expedition.
Friday broke our routine as classes were cancelled for Project Day. Once each semester, both students and faculty join in to work on projects that improve the HMI campus. Amongst other projects, we painted picnic tables and laid duff around the campus to promote vegetation growth. The cook crew made a special lunch of bison burgers and a lot of hot dogs. The lunch was a special treat and delicious! Projects resumed after lunch. A crew of students and faculty stained one entire side of the main building! After completing the staining, we all reported to the playing field to help haul brush and logs. Our goal was to haul as much dead wood as we could onto the old forest roads behind HMI in the hope of helping the forest regenerate. Although many of us suspected hauling old logs was not the most efficient way of promoting regrowth, it made us really hungry for dinner, which is always a great thing. It felt funny eating so dirty; it reminded us of the first day back from our expedition. We celebrated our hard work on Friday with a normal study hall that took us into the night.
On Saturday, we started our day with a game of dodgeball for AMX. It was probably the most fun field game we have played so far, and it definitely got everyone excited and awake. After a breakfast of fruit salad and cereal, we did our chores and then went to either clean our cabins or P&P class. Cabin inspection is always fun because everyone tries to think of the best bribe for James, cabin inspector extraordinaire. This Saturday, the boys from Cabin 2 attempted to pull off a dance during the middle of P&P class, but, alas, the girls from Cabin 4 won for the third time. After lunch, everyone went and participated in chopping and distributing wood to the cabins - we have to stock up before winter really starts hitting us! Then we split into three groups for our trips into town and for laundry.
Saturday was our first real trip into downtown Leadville, and we all had a really good time. Most everyone visited the thrift store, which had many amazing finds, such as a leopard print rug for Cabin 4s front door. Other cool places we found included the coffee shop, Proving Grounds, and the clothing store, Melanzana. The clothes we bought definitely came in handy for the evening of Rock Star Bowling that followed dinner. Everyone dressed up as their favorite rock star, and we definitely did it up in style. We had Joni Mitchell, Madonna, Angus Young from AC/DC, Cyndi Lauper, and more. Bowling was a ton of fun, even if some of us only had a high score of 32!
Sunday morning brought much needed sleep from the last night of Rock Star Bowling. The breakfast crew helped make delicious plain and chocolate croissants and smoothies. Most students used the early afternoon time to catch up on homework, including the colorful and informational mammal posters for science. We headed to town again in the late afternoon for a scheduled train ride through Leadvilles foliage and mountains. We rode for about an hour up to Climax mine. Along the way we socialized, hung out and enjoyed the refreshments on the train. The train ride was relaxing; we watched the beautiful Aspen trees (which are a golden yellow) go by. Sunday also kicked off our International Cuisine Week, which started with Swiss food. Table order was decided with a humorous yodeling contest; the menu featured fondue, potatoes, bread and vegetables. We enjoyed a scrumptious chocolate fondue with fruit for dessert. Study hall went as normal, and everyone had a usual night in the cabin, eating, talking, and trying to finish up homework.
Monday morning featured an intense game of Capture the Flag for AMX. We enjoyed French toast with fruit and yogurt for breakfast; the combination has quickly become a favorite. Classes and chores went as usual, with AP US History student turning in their 1st DBQs, and everyone visiting the beautiful Emerald Lake for science lab to study animal scat. In the evening, 3 different advisor groups went out to dinner with their advisors; the groups either visited a restaurant or ate dinner at their advisors home. Those who stayed at HMI enjoyed cuisine from Spain, consisting of egg and potato pie.
We are all anticipating the coming expedition while studying for tests in almost every subject and waiting to find out our second expedition groups.
Well talk to you after the trip!
Hello all! We are back at HMI after our cold, snowy and fun second expedition!
Before we could leave on the expedition, we had a week of classes and exams. The week was filled to the brim with work and fun. Is that possible you say? Yes, it is very possible. The week opened up with a vocabulary game and quiz in English, another daily quiz in math, debates in history and our weekly three hour lab in science. For our lab, we traveled to Emerald Lake, about fifteen minutes from campus. There we learned how to track animals by their footprints and their scat. In our lab, we counted scat in certain areas to find the number of animals around the lake. Spanish and French students had their first test on Tuesday; many were surprised by their difficulty, although they also showed us how much we have to learn. On Wednesday, our English exam consisted of reading a short story or poem and responding to it by writing an in-class, analytical essay. We also had a test in history. The test covered the time from pre-colonization to the rise of tensions between the colonies and England. On the test, we linked causes and events and compared development in the early American colonies. Other causes for work included math homework, current events for history, and more vocabulary in English. Friday was our last day of school before expedition, and you can imagine how excited every one was to be done with all our tests and to go out into the wilderness for our 9-day second expedition!
Last Sunday morning, we all woke up knowing that after hours and hours of preparation, it was finally expedition day. We anxiously ate our breakfast and then did our chores more thoroughly than we have done them all semester. This was followed by several long (but not long enough) minutes of hugging each other goodbye. Everyone then piled into their respective vans and headed off. When we reached our destinations, twenty minutes later at the most, we met the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) representatives that would help us with our trail work.
The second expedition combined regular hiking travel with three days of service work on the trails to the summits of Mts. Massive and Elbert, the two highest peaks in Colorado that also serve as a backyard for HMI. We set up a base camp our first night and began the expedition with review classes taught by the students. We used fun games and pop quizzes to make sure that everyone was up to par on their bomb proofing, possibles bag packing and hydration. Rich did surprise checks on everyones bomb-proofing, Peter did a demonstration of proper stove use, and Hannah attempted to lead a hygiene trivia game.
The next day we gathered our tools and headed up the mountain. Our CFI leaders introduced us to the trail work, which consisted mainly of building check dams to stop erosion and narrowing trails. We used pick axes to dig holes in the rocky soil, filling the ditches with large, heavy rocks we carried from the surrounding area. The rock dams will redirect water and trap sediment on the trail. These check dam prevent erosion on paths, and also act as a step. To narrow the path, we dug up plants from different areas and replanted them on the areas where the trail was too wide. After two days, we knew the CFI workers pretty well. On the second night, however, it rained and then snowed, leaving the ground too frozen
to do any work. We went up to the work site anyway, recovered our tools, and proceeded to start a huge and fun snowball fight!
After the service section of this expedition, the expedition groups continued with a few days of hiking through the Sawatch Range. All groups climbed either Mt. Massive or Mt. Elbert at some point during their expedition. Our summit day was beautiful! Snow had fallen at our tarp site, but nothing compared to the snow depths we had to trek through on our way to the summit. All bundled up, everyone got to the summit together by the early afternoon. We couldnt have wished for a better day to go up; the views were absolutely amazing!
Our hiking route took us from the peaks on a northerly route. In general, the weather was cold and snowy, but everyone kept warm and bundled up. Molly believes it snowed more during this trip than any previous fall expedition, but we all made it safely!
A new task greeted us during the hiking section - IST. IST stands for Independent Student Travel. During IST, students are not only responsible for writing a hiking plan for the day, but they also have to carry out the plan without the faculty direction. The first day, the faculty left 15 minutes behind and stalked our movement. Although we were a little confused about the actual location of our camp, our instructors helped us learn from our mistakes. By the last full day of the expedition, the instructors left camp several hours after us. This meant that we had to navigate on our own through the snow! Were getting ready for our next expedition - using what weve learned and putting it to the test without the faculty. After all we have learned, we are ready to guide ourselves.
Of course, along with the cooking and staying warm, there was also homework. However, it was more fun than normal because it related to what we were doing on the expedition. In English, we are reading Teewinot, by Jack Turner, a book about hiking and living in the Tetons. Katie had us write journal entries with the prompt to imitate Turners writing style. His nature journal was in a very different style than our normal readings. In science, we did field studies, another species account, and read an article about the ESA (Endangered Species Act), and responded to it. In history, we read an article about the image of western settlers. Then, we wrote a creative story about the life of a person that we imagine as a Western. Now that we are back at HMI, we dont have to bundle up to stay warm. The snow is still around, though, and it provides a different but beautiful look for us to come home to.
We returned to campus after the expedition with visions of hour long hot showers in our heads. In fact, the truth was quite different. We stepped off the vans, and Molly immediately grabbed us, sent us to lunch, and tossed us into the whirl of de-issue land. For lunch we had fruit, which made all of our days. Fruit, after surviving on remarkable powdered foods such as potatoes, beans, milk, and flour for a week and a half, is like a gift from the gods. After lunch, we sped off to test tarps for holes, clean stoves, and sort spices as fast as possible in order to finally shower and check our mail. By the end of the afternoon our pristinely clean faces glowed with happiness. It could have, however, just looked like we were glowing because we were so used to seeing faces covered with a film of dirt! We sat down to study hall that night since our teachers took our worries that we had no work to do into account and gave us some homework. After study hall, we returned to our cabins and never had a bed seemed more comfortable.
The next morning we actually woke up warm, dry, and without a saggy, snow covered tarp against our faces. What a novelty! Most of us could not say that we missed the internal daily battle to get out of our sleeping bags. That morning we took the PSATs with mugs of warm tea in hand. It was probably the most relaxed atmosphere in which we can ever hope to take a standardized test, and many of us hope it helped us do well. Regular classes came after a lunch of grilled cheese and soup, and we stepped back into our lives as they existed prior to the expedition. We all enjoyed the company of those in our cabins and went to bed early.
Steven led AMX on Friday with a brisk nature walk through the sagebrush fields. We returned back to a warm truckers breakfast of eggs, home fries, and toast. For Friday activity, Ben offered an exciting Spanish dance class where many of us learned the fine art of salsa dancing. Nancys Precalculus II class spent the afternoon pondering quadratic problems while sipping on tall mochas at the Proving Grounds bakery. The cook crew on Friday deemed it 1990s Pop star night and forced everyone to either dress as a star, or forgo dinner. Needless to say, many people played along, and it looked like the 1995 Grammys in Whos hall! We enjoyed delicious bison burgers with all the fixings for dinner as Nsync, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears blasted in the background! Saturday morning began with a rousing game of four ball soccer led by Karl. A breakfast of oatmeal followed the intense physical competition, and we all headed down to our cabins for a 45- minute cabin clean.
To the dismay of many, Cabin 1 (a boys cabin!) won cabin inspection for the second week in a row, leaving everyone with a challenge for next week. After the results were announced, we piled into the vans and headed for the National Mining Museum in Leadville. James and Sarah gave us an hour to complete a very thorough scavenger hunt that helped us all gain a much better understanding of Leadvilles history. The hunt included such questions as: how many mines existed in Leadville, what is feldspar used for, and when was the original gold boom in the Arkansas River Valley? For lunch we had a picnic in the park behind the museum, and we enjoyed the delicious zucchini bread made by the cooking class during Thursday activity. The rest of the afternoon was spent in Leadville doing laundry, shopping in gift shops or at the thrift store, and frequenting our favorite supermarket, Safeway! Saturday night was low key, beginning with a showing of Zoolander and followed by Best in Show, with many people relaxing outside under the almost full moon. Cabin 4 had an exciting sleepover in the classroom with our pneumonia-ridden cabin mate.
Sunday is the day students get to sleep late and have brunch at 10:00 AM. Our routine was broken, however, with a prank from the girls cabins. Instead of 10:00 AM, our Sunday morning wake up came at 3:30 AM, and pots and pans replaced the regular alarm sounds. The girls, and faculty sponsor James, were pretty proud of themselves and the banging rang in our ears until dawn. By the time brunch finally rolled around, many of the guys dragged their feet into Whos Hall. A breakfast of crepes with strawberries, mangos, and ice cream jolted students awake, however!
As Sunday was the only off day of the week, many students resorted to sleeping, lounging around, bouldering on the rock wall, homework, and joining in a kitchen clean. James and Ben did their best to hint that students should go climbing, and seven lucky individuals signed up. Sunny skies and moderate temperatures held out for the entire day. The climbers were treated with milkshakes in Buena Vista on the return drive to campus. This Sunday was also the first of three RMS formal dinners. Students wore their best attire for corn on the cob, buffalo meat loaf, and mashed potatoes. The RMS faculty also attended. Following the grand meal, everyone piled into vans, cars, and even bicycles to go to a concert in town. Story Hill, a folk/pop group duo performed in St. Georges Church in Leadville. The people of Leadville and the RMS filled the church, and enjoyed Story Hills music. When the performance ended people headed home, and the students returned to campus. Everyone jumped into bed after a long day to be ready for another week of classes.
On Monday, everyone felt tired from the concert the previous night. It was quite a struggle to get up for AMX in the morning, but everyone managed to get out of bed anyway. We played Ultimate Frisbee, and it was a pretty fun game, despite the fact that quite a few of the people played seemingly half-asleep. Breakfast was Breakfast Burritos and cereal, and they were really good. The science labs went to Turquoise Lake to study glaciers and their part in forming the mountains that surround us in Leadville. After our three-hour science lab we had lunch, which was delicious, and then spent until 1:00 playing frisbee and soccer while the cook crew cleaned up. The highlight of the day was definitely dinner, which was homemade pizza fresh out of the oven. After the pizza was eaten and cleaned up, it was time for study hall. Neil and Ray demonstrated their skill on the euphonium and guitar, respectively, by playing impromptu concerts after study hall to the delight of us all. Tuesday Morning started with a run for AMX. For the first time, we did a new loop of almost six miles, so we started early. We came back panting and tired, but very happy and proud of ourselves. After the two morning classes, we had BLTs for lunch and then got ready for our afternoon classes and the activities. Highlights included a visit to the town pool in Leadville, and pumpkin carving. The jack o lanterns now grace the tables in Whos Hall!
Our days are now spent getting ready for Parents Weekend. We cannot wait to see you!
The last week leading up to Parents Weekend was a blur of homework, deadlines, stress, tests, and more homework. We all agree that it was among the most hectic couple of days weve had thus far in the semester. Yet, despite the frantic atmosphere, we all still
managed to have fun. Katies English 1 class succeeded in making Peter blush 5 times during the week. During math class, Nancy took several classes to the coffee shop for our weekly shots of math and caffeine. The new location certainly helped our stress level. Additionally, the cook crews kept coming up with creative table order games for dinner. We acted out our favorite Disney movie themes (for example, Peter as Prince Charming attempting to find the right fit for the glass slipper and Sam and Sarah enjoying a magic carpet ride) or perfected our best teacher impersonations.
During Community Meeting on Thursday, James and Nancy read us stories about family dynamics in anticipation of the epic arrival of our folks that Friday night. The funny and lighthearted stories made us appreciate our parents even more. The faculty was busy as well. We all swore that our teachers were superhuman because they somehow managed to turn in grades on time while still teaching classes, and (in Katies case) meeting with each of us in order to help us improve our theses and writing our English papers. The rest of the week consisted of usual events. We all got up at ungodly hours and ran 5.9 miles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We delayed evacuating the main buiding each night (something that drives the faculty on duty insane!). The first big on-campus snow storm occurred Wednesday, and more than a foot of snow dropped on HMI. We still had our walk for morning exercise, and Steven and Ben had us shoveling after our normal chores for the next two days. Bailey also found a new way to enforce mud room clutter rules, and a rather large amount of abandoned back packs ended up in the snow every morning for the rest of the week. Somehow we all survived the week and were in decent enough condition to be reunited with our parents on Friday.
We had been anticipating Parents Weekend since the end of the second expedition, and by the time Friday arrived, everyone was filled with such excitement that the air on campus buzzed. Before we could see our parents, however, we had to live through a full day of classes. The A.P. US History class had a chapter quiz and practiced Document Based Question essays (the third of the semester) first thing in the morning. The DBQ revolved around the merits of the Articles of Confederation versus the Constitution. Everyone stayed busy, trying to finish final drafts of the formal lab reports for science and paper revisions for English. The Advanced Spanish class completed a novel, and promptly turned their attention to an exam. We were tired by the end of the day at 5:30, but once again cleaned our chore areas before loading into the vans and made our way to Molly and Christophers house to greet our parents who had assembled for a party. As the vans pulled into the driveway, parents began to flood out of the house, greeting everyone with open arms and huge smiles. After a dinner off campus with our parents, everyone returned to HMI for a big bonfire, smores, and entertainment by various students. For example, the second expedition girls group sang a song composed during their trip, Nancys math class recited haikus they had written, Neil played the euphonium, and several students read from their English expedition journals. We were then free to spend the night with our parents or stay on campus for the night. After the excitement of a long day, we were all relieved to sleep and looked forward to the entire weekend left to spend with our parents.
Academic classes took up most of Saturday. Each teacher presented an abbreviated class for our parents. Having your parents in class with you can be awkward enough under normal circumstances, but the faculty had us dance interpretively to depict the scientific process, read a poem written to our parents about our experiences here, and place our folks in the proper leadership grid quadrant. That night, Joh cooked an amazing dinner of grilled salmon and rice. After dinner, we sat down for a slide show that featured all the embarrassing and amazing pictures from the semester so far. The show included scenes from the first day we arrived, the first expedition, the WFA course, all the crazy days we dressed up: rock star bowling, pop star night, and even the first formal dinner, to doing our chores. We recalled Project Day and the service work on the second expedition. We had never quite realized how many time John could be caught on camera giving a thumbs up and discovered that the faculty have a secret desire to be paparazzi! After seeing all the pictures, it was impossible to believe that the semester is now half way over. After the show, everyone left with their parents. People went as far as Denver and Colorado Springs, and some stayed as close as Leadville and Summit County. Some of us simply went sight seeing and others saw family and colleges, visiting both Colorado College and UC-Boulder. But now we are back at the RMS, and thoughts have already turned to the next two weeks of classes and then the third and final expedition.
Greetings, everyone, from all of us here in beautiful, fall-like Leadville!
Tuesday began as it always does. We headed out early to complete our six-mile run before breakfast. We run this loop every Tuesday and Thursday; its a beautiful early morning run as the sun rises over the Mosquito Range. After our run, the day progressed fairly normally with the regular classes. A highlight of the day was a heated trial in U.S. History. During the trial, Thomas Jefferson and his attorneys prosecuted Alexander Hamilton for his actions as George Washingtons treasury secretary, claiming Hamiltons policies were unconstitutional and harmful to liberty. Danny and John assigned each student a role in the trial as a lawyer or witness; different primary source readings helped us assume the positions of our respective characters. During the activity period after the trial, some students played frisbee golf around campus and others heard an admissions representative from Lewis and Clark College come talk about the school. She talked about all it had to offer, its smaller sized community feeling, and liberal arts-based education. When we came back from the meeting, we found that another student group had decorated Whos Hall with festive Halloween decorations.
Wednesdays more civilized AMX began at 7:25 with a walk with Katie through the woods towards Turquoise Lake. The beginning of elk hunting season added excitement to the walk, and everyone wore an orange bandana. In P&P class, we began the planning process for our expeditions to the canyons. We divided up groups into expedition and tarp groups, deciding who would sleep under which tarp. The expedition is entirely run by the students, and Sam, James, Clara, Hannah O., and Lucia were selected to lead our trips. In our tarp groups, we worked out our food ration and the equipment to carry in each tarp group. It looks as if we all plan on eating a lot of bagels and cheese! We were all surprised at the amount of work and research that goes into planning an expedition, but it has gotten everyone very excited for the upcoming trip.
Thursday was, of course, our second 6 mile run. It was a brisk, cold morning until the sun came out. The sky looked amazing as the sun rose over of the mountains. During our community meeting, Ben and Katie presented readings on the benefit of taking your time and seizing all opportunities. They then passed out post-it notes, on which we had to write our remaining group goals and desires. Ideas included more dances, pranks, dress up days, to sleep under the stars, and battles between the faculty and students. Thursday activities included recycling, volunteering at the soup kitchen with Steven, and visiting the elementary school with Karl to tutor the fourth graders in Leadville. We practiced multiplication tables with them using flashcards on the computer. They are always excited to work with us and are really cute kids.
Friday was an interesting day that began with another morning walk. Katies attempt to mimic Coopers standard through the woods ended up going 15 minutes over, leaving us very late for breakfast! In science, we started learning about rock morphology. For a demonstration, we went outside and everyone found a rock of there own to adopt. We had to identify characteristics our rocks as best we could before getting in a circle and passing the rocks behind our backs. Without looking, we then had to try and get back our original rock by remembering its feel. It turns out that we need more practice with rock identification. It was fun, however, and some even became attached, naming their rocks. That night at dinner, Cook Crew E decided to make everyone dress up as High Mountain High students, ordering us to embrace the typical stereotype of high school students. We came up with many creative groups such as nerds, Goths, hippies, jocks, and the in-kids. The nerds ended up winning the table order contest that featured a walk off against the other groups. The evenings linguini with tomato sauce and chicken parmesan was absolutely delicious, one of the best yet.
Saturday was Halloween-themed. After our routine of cloths washing and wood chopping, we visited the haunted house in Leadville and scared ourselves with horror movies. Sunday stared an hour later for all of us because of the shift from daylight savings time. We were all quite pleased to have another hour for rest or work. At ten oclock, we enjoyed coffee cake and cereal for breakfast. Many of us decided to go climbing at CMC climbing wall. We worked on a number of routes and problems, including overhangs and dinos. Others decided to visit the Leadville pool at 1:30. When we arrived back at HMI, people began to study intensely for their history tests.
Monday began with a workout to Lucias Tae Bo in Whos hall. Everyone laughed at Billy Blank and his silly Tae Bo moves. Cooper and Beckys science labs went to the Arkansas River to test water speeds on different sections of the river by placing pine cones in the water and measuring the their speed. The afternoon history test covered the period from the founding of the Constitution to Jacksonion America. Monday started our cook crew bake-off with Mondays cook crew offering toffee bars for dessert. We judge each dessert for quality, presentation, and nutritional value. Given this is the last week before our expedition, we have a lot of work this week that we began tackling Monday night in study hall.
Well let you know how it all went in next weeks update!
Hello everyone! Here is our last update before the expedition.
Everyone has been excited over the last week for the expedition and the release from society, electricity, and cleanliness that it implies. Getting through the last few days was tough but fun, with numerous exams and essays in history, English and Spanish, but also lots of spontaneous insanity in our day-to-day life. We spent the week in science and P&P preparing for the expedition. Cooper discussed the geology of the canyon areas, and the way in which water formed the canyons, by showing us pictures of previous expeditions. It will be cool to spend a week walking through and witnessing the processes we talked about in class. Sarah and James used P&P time to go over risk management models in order to prepare us for the student led expeditions.
Katie, Danny and Ben kept us busy as well with major tests in history and Spanish and an essay rewrite in English. Dannys history exam tested our understanding of the U.S. Constitution by requiring us to apply the successes and failures of the period to the situation in Iraq. We then had to advise the Iraqi government on ways to form a stable government based on Americas experience with a new constitution. From history, we moved to Spanish. Given that many of us had difficulty with Bens first Spanish test, we all studied extremely hard for this exam, and the effort paid off! Our grades improved considerably and showed how much we have learned. In addition to our essays in English, we have started Dharma Bums, which we will finish on the expedition.
The HMI Board also visited campus on Thursday for two days of meetings, which meant more cleaning in preparation. The Board ate lunch with the students and picked our brains on what we think of the RMS. Molly also invited us to attend parts of the board meeting. Some students attended the meetings and discovered that the board makes many important decisions critical to the smooth operation of HMI, but most of it is are very boring!
Friday finished up academic classes until after Thanksgiving break. The day began with a walk for morning exercise and cereal for breakfast. We prepped for the expedition during activity period Friday afternoon as many of us joined James in a gear repair class. We used patches and sewing machines to fix our battle-hardened equipment. For table order on Friday night, the cook crew divided us into groups and required everyone in each group to wear the same color clothing. The table with the best color coordination got to eat first. Team Green took the prize, although the orange group became convinced that trickery was afoot with the red and blue teams conspiring against them with the three person yellow minority!
Everyone woke up Saturday morning to falling snow, but we had AMX anyway. The six inches that fell did not stop us from a normal day. We rotated through P&P class and cabin cleaning time, which mainly consisted of each cabin desperately trying to come up with an original bribe for James. Cabin 2 managed to pull out their first victory of the semester when all points were counted. After lunch was our town run, during which we rushed from laundry to Safeway and from Provin Grounds to Melanzana. We divided into two Saturday night. Some of us went to the Colorado Mountain College to compete in a rock climbing competition. James and Neil did really well, finishing second and third, respectively, in the entire competition. The rest of us spent Saturday night playing flashlight tag in the snow and dancing to absurdly loud music.
On Sunday, everyone enjoyed extra sleep and French toast and fruit for breakfast. After brunch we worked on homework until Steven arrived to take us to the Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista. The hot springs are natural; in pockets, the river was over 80 degrees! Upon our return, the cook crew made Indian food for dinner, and we settled into study hall. Well, at least some of us did. The boys, headed by Mark and Sam, snuck down to our cabins and managed to take the doors to the two girls cabins of their hinges. When the girls reached their cabins at 9:45, they found their cabins freezing and doorless! The girls then headed to the slightly warmer yurt to sleep for the night.
On Monday, we prepped for the expedition. Instead of faculty leading the groups, however, the student expedition leaders took charge. From gear checks, food rations, review classes, and pep talks, the students took charge of the entire day. It was fantastic to see how much we have learned in the last 2.5 months and it made us even more confident for the expedition.
Hello everyone. We write from a cold and snowy Colorado! It has snowed for the past seven days!
We returned to campus from Thanksgiving break last Saturday afternoon. Arriving at the airport as a group reminded us of the first day of the semester. After dinner, the faculty announced that, due to the excellent conditions (Ski Cooper already had a snow pack of over 70!), we were going skiing on Sunday! The evening was full of excitement and anticipation as we filled each other in on the past week, and many of us had wanted to go skiing from the day we decided to come to Colorado. Both our expert skiers and those of us who have never put on skis (there are a lot of both) dreamed of the powder Saturday night.
Sunday morning finally arrived, and we enjoyed a 9:30 breakfast and were on the road by 10:00. For those of us who had skied in Colorado before, Ski Cooper was a small mountain, but the snow quality was great because few visit the out-of-the-way resort. Everyone also decided to give telemark skiing a try, and as hardly anyone had ever telemark skied before, the mountain was perfect. Despite the weather (the wind chill made it feel about
5 degrees, and it never seemed to stop blowing, especially on the lifts), we all had a great time falling on our faces and butts as we practiced teleturns and taking hot chocolate breaks whenever it got too cold.
Although we all came home tired after a great day, the excitement was not over, for a square dance was scheduled in Whos Hall after a tremendous Western dinner put together by Joh. We all dressed up in Western clothes and went to the dance floor where our local caller announced moves and instructed us in various line dances. We followed him through various square dancing routines to original music, including a Cotton Eye Joe cover and the electric slide, enjoying ourselves very much. That night, after a long day of skiing and dancing, our beds provided an incomparable sanctuary, and we all slept soundly until the very early hour in the morning when our alarms rudely awoke us.
Monday morning got off to a slow start as we were all exhausted from our incredibly fun and jam-packed Sunday. However, science lab definitely got things rolling. We traveled to Buena Vista and visited a sustainable house built by a man named Read. The house was incredible. It runs off of solar and wind power, has rammed earth walls for insulation, and even features a composting toilet. Our visit was an awesome way to kick off our sustainable living unit. Our classes continued as well. In Advanced Spanish, we had our first day of Subjunctive Boot Camp in which we revisited all the basics. On Tuesday morning we had our first run since before the third expedition. It was super cold and a bit tough since we were all getting used to altitude again, but definitely worth it. The Fun Run is only a week away, and the daunting challenge only gets closer! In AP US History we continued our discussion about the causes of the Civil War and talked about our upcoming paper assignment.
Tuesdays activities was a lot of fun as always; many of us went with Mims to Provin Grounds and made Christmas/Hannukah cards. Classes finished the day. In English, we continued to discuss the Beat movement and work on our Dharma Bums projects. Personally, I am really excited about presenting the Jack Kerouac haikus we have been working on. Wednesday morning started wonderfully we had fruit crisp which is hands down the best breakfast in the world. Wednesday is also our fullest class day and includes P&P, in which we began working on our ethical debate projects. We are debating different issues such as drilling in the Artic Wildlife Refuge. Wednesday also kicked off Home Cooking week. We each cooked our favorite dinners from home as a way to top off a semesters worth of cook crews. Our first Homemade recipe was Agness macaroni and cheese, which was super yummy.
Thursday started with field games instead of a nature walk because of all the snow! Later, everyone gave their Dharma Bums presentations in English class. Some of the presentations discussed how Haikus are written, what Koans are, and the Fire Watch program that had a big impact on the Beat Movement. Activities Thursday afternoon included the regulars such as volunteering at the Leadville soup kitchen, teaching math to the kids at Lake County Elementary School, visiting the climbing wall at the Colorado Mountain College, and sorting our recycling!
On Friday we played more field games in the snow for morning exercise and then continued on to our regular classes. In Science, we picked our presentation topics for the sustainable living presentations, and French class had a birthday party for our teacher Justine! That night cook crew had us dress up gangsta style and made us show off our favorite break dancing moves for table order. Then it was off to study hall, where most of us started to work on our science presentations that are due next Thursday.
The weekend started off with the Lumberjack Competition, new in RMS XV! The two girls cabins competed against a combined boys teams. The three teams spent the early afternoon competing in different wood-related competitions while chopping wood for each of the cabins. The prize? The winning team was rewarded an hour of town time to wander around Leadville after laundry. The competitions consisted of two-handed log throw, speed unloading, wheelbarrow runs, chopping, and more. Points were rewarded to each team in different amounts - but that wasnt the only deciding factor. Bonus points were rewarded for team work and positive attitudes. Cabin 3 won the competition and got to go into town, but everyone got a really good work out and had a really good time during the afternoon.
Saturday night was full of advisee dinners, another home cooking meal, and the movie Miracle. Then off to bed because Sunday was a trip to Ski Cooper. It was another very cold day, but almost everyone hit the mountain - either on alpine skis, snowboards, or telemark skis. Two people opted for the Nordic ski option. It was a full, tiring day but everyone had stories to tell at the end of the day and sore muscles showed a good effort from everyone. We spent Sunday afternoon relaxing around campus and catching up on work to start off the last full week of classes. Sunday night feautures another home cooking meal, followed by study hall and then back to warm cabins - heated with the logs we chopped the day before!
Greetings everyone! This is our last update of the semester. Looking back, we cant believe that 4 months have passed since we arrived in Leadville. The time may seem short, but we have grown so much this fall.
Our week began as normal before a string of exciting events took over the last part of the week. Wednesday was its usual stressful self as we all have the entire block of classes from 9:00 to 5:30. The day did start off a little better than normal, however, as we took our weekly Wednesday walk for AMX with Cooper instead of our favorite slave driver, Katie. After a hot breakfast, we worked on our 6-page history papers. For the past week, each of us has explored different topics relating to the American West, such as water rights, Leadville history, the Indian Wars, and the cowboy myth. Our ethics debates in P&P also took place on Wednesday. We hotly debated topics such as whether or not to force all car agencies to increase the fuel efficiency of their cars.
During Community Meeting in the yurt, Molly discussed how to make the best of our sad returns home. Her talk was Going Home, Part 4, we think. In English, we started working on newspaper or magazine articles about our experience at the RMS that we hope to have published in newspapers or magazines. Katie gave us complete freedom to write on a topic of our choosing, and the articles mean a lot to us. Justine showed us an incredible movie in French class, and we all continued to cry about its end in math class. Poor Karl had no idea what to do with three sobbing girls in his class, so he tried doubly hard to engage us in mathematics, but were not sure it worked!
We began Thursday as normal with a run, but, given the fact that is was -24 degrees outside, we ran for only a half of a mile before turning back. We have figured out how to complete full runs in -5 degree weather, but this was too much! We continued to work on various academic projects throughout the day with a break for activity period. As normal, we headed to the climbing wall, volunteered at the soup kitchen, sorted recycling, visited the elementary school to help teach math, and, in a new activity, visited an animal shelter to walk their dogs.
The day was December 9th, 2005. The skies where clear of clouds and the suns rays warmed the ground. Everything appeared to be proceeding as planned. AMX was a walk with Cooper through the woods, breakfast consisted of French toast, and chores went as planned. As chores finished, the faculty called all students into Whos Hall for some important announcements. The faculty wore sad/serious faces. We thought we were all in trouble. Mollys announcements were all serious. Soon the talk moved into our proposed plan to improve study hall and timeliness. The suspense for mounted. To everyones disbelief, Molly finished the announcement by saying that all classes were cancelled and we were having a ski day! The clear and warm weather outside was begging us to go out and ski. With the vans loaded with students and gear, everyone drove to Ski Cooper. The only rule was to be back at the vans at 3:00. Compared to the past times skiing, we could not have been more blessed by the weather. Molly joined us after noon to see our smiles. Smiles never left faces, and the lifts never stopped running. The RMS had Ski Cooper all to themselves for a wonderful end of the semester treat.
Sunday was the day many of us had waited for with some dread and much anticipation for quite a while. It was time for the Fun Run. Although we have prepared all semester and were in shape for the ten mile course, we were still worried. Brunch on Sunday was at 9:30, and the Fun Run began at 12:00. We had pancakes for brunch, but didnt eat too much because we were about to run ten miles. The faculty had stressed hydration during the previous days, and the day was warm, sunny, and clear. The weather was perfect! At a little after 11:30, we all loaded into vans and drove out to the starting line of the race. After milling about awkwardly for about five minutes, everyone lined up to start the run. Julia finished first, and a less than three hours after the start, the last few runners came down the HMI driveway! Everyone that started the race finished it, and the Fun Run was a huge success. As we finished the run, we waited at the finish line to cheer others on, heading down the driveway to meet the last runners. After the exhausting run, students showered, changed, and energized for our 4:00 meeting. We then had pizza and a meeting about the responsibilities of being RMS alums. After the presentation, we had dinner at 6:00 and study hall at 7:00. Study hall was pretty busy be