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News from RMS XVI
Click on a date to read an update from the students of RMS XVI:
This is our last update of the semester. Looking back, it is pretty amazing to think about all the fun we have shared over the past four months. We are coming home with slightly different hair cuts (youll see when we get home), but very different perspectives on our education and communities and our place within them
Although the end is drawing near, we have been far too busy to dwell on all the sad farewells to come. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week, we explored the history of Leadville in English class. We visited the old, run-down mines, and tailing piles (some that look oddly like wedding cakes) to learn more about Leadvilles mining history and the environmental impact the industry had on the town. We continued to work on our final science projects, an in-depth study of various sustainable energy sources, and began writing our history term papers. In P&P, we debated various questions posed in Encounters with the Archdruid and wrapped up the academic class that is so tied to our wilderness expeditions. All week people could be seen chugging water bottles, desperately trying to hydrate for the 10-mile Fun Run that was getting disturbingly closer by the day. We also ate some great home cooked meals during Home Cooking Week! Meals (all recipes from home) included fried chicken, pasta in a pink sauce, and Caribbean fritters.
On Friday, we had the great honor of taking part in the RMS tradition of Project Day. Classes are cancelled and everyone works together to improve the HMI campus. This year some of the projects included building a new deck for the apprentice cabin, constructing field goals for the playing field, duffing the ground, building bike racks, performing maintenance on the Frisbee golf course, cleaning up the campus, and re-staining the Main Building. It was an extremely fun day where you could take your mind off of work and come to realize just how much of a part of the RMS we have become.
On Saturday, we started out with normal Saturday classes and then did our town run for laundry and town time. Many people ended up buying quite unusual items from different places in town. One student, Sky, decided to buy a small bike form the thrift shop for 5 dollars. That night we went bowling in town, and a special guest star, the third performer from Siegfried and Roy, Brooks, wowed us with his magical skills. We also saw some impressive displays of athletic ability, with things like hand stands on bowling balls and high jumps over the ball return.
Sunday was the day of the fun run: a 10 mile run at 10,000 feet. We had been training for this day since the beginning of the semester. Robby beat the record time, and our groups cumulative time also beat previous semesters. As we ran, we thought back to our first, short January runs in the snow and cold and could not help but feel incredibly proud of ourselves. Everyone finished in high spirits, buoyed by the nice weather and faculty support and entertainment at the various aid stations. After the run, resting our sore limbs, we enjoyed a pizza lunch and then took two vans to the Leadville swimming pool fun a fun dip.
Ben, Sundays FOD, let us skip AMX and sleep in on Monday morning. In science on Monday, we presented our heavily researched projects on alternative energy sources, sustainable architecture and much more. We also continued to research our history papers. The year is coming to an end, and the work load is fairly large. We then retired to our cabins and tried to get a good nights rest.
Tuesday was the last day of regular classes, which meant that we had to hand in all our final assignments or beg for extensions. Both US and AP history students turned in final papers on various topics ranging from an analysis of Richard Nixons 1972 visit to China era to the roles of women in the West. For our final English assignment, we explored the restoration efforts designed to reduce mining pollution in Leadville. Math and Spanish classes took their final tests, and we were free (well, almost).
On Wednesday morning we took the Practices and Principles final exam, which didnt feel at all like the finals we were used to at home. The test was almost completely hands on. We moved from station to station throughout campus, where faculty and apprentices graded the practical skills we have acquired during the year: lighting a stove, tying a truckers hitch, identifying map features and orienting a map, or completing the full patient assessment we learned during our WFA course. We finished the exam wishing all classes could have such fun evaluations. Wednesday afternoon was spent packing in preparation for departure and starting work on our Full Circle Presentations - 8 to 10 minute speeches that we will read on Saturday to the entire RMS community. Make sure you ask us to share them with you when we return home.
And now we are at the end of our semester. It has been an incredible ride, full of more laughs and learning than we could ever have imagined. But we are ready to come home and show our families and friends how much we have learned!
By: Leo DesBois, Gill Conly, Justin Silverman, and Garret OBrien
This past week was fun-filled and exciting. On Tuesday, we started our day by sleeping in until 7:45 to recover from the weekend of SATs and skiing. Classes flew by. After lunch, the apprentices led us in activities, including a chance to climb at the HMI wall. We got to climb for an hour and a half; many of us had never climbed before coming to the RMS, and now it is our favorite activity. To take advantage of the daylight and the sudden spring-like weather in Leadville, the faculty has pushed study hall back until 7:20 (it now ends at 9:20, no such luck in shortening the evening!). We thus had an hour to run around, play basketball, frisbee golf, or soccer, or to go for a walk or bike ride.
The academic week was incredibly challenging. We had major projects due in most of our classes. In P&P, we read a selected chapter from Encounters with the Archdruid with reading groups and then presented to the rest of the class on the chapters we read and ethical decisions within them. We each also wrote a paper discussing the books ethical dilemmas and how practical decisions were made by various characters in the book. History classes continued to work on their research papers, frantically doing research for the papers that must relate to the history of the American West. Danny insists the paper must contain an original argument and not simply be a narrative so the paper is keeping us on our toes! Science also kept us working hard, this time on projects concerning various sustainable living topics. Projects range from sustainable forestry to solar power.
During AMX on Friday morning, we played ultimate frisbee with the guys facing off against the girls. What a game! Congratulations to the girls as they won our by two points! Classes continued on Friday as normal. Bens Spanish classes prepped for their Saturday morning tests and Katies English classes worked through the end of Dharma Bums. Study Hall completed the evening on Friday. The fact that we are finally getting used to study hall on Friday nights is just one more reason to regret the semester is coming to an end!
Saturdays AMX was a nice walk to the Beaver Ponds at the end of the road. After a great breakfast and chores, we had two classes, either Spanish or French and science. Bens test was challenging but manageable. After classes and lunch, we all got into the vans and headed to town for laundry and time to shop for Mothers Day gifts.
On Sunday, many students went to Turtle Rock in Buena Vista to go rock climbing while others relaxed and finished up work around HMI. James, Cooper, Joh, and Steven set up four climbs of varying difficulty. It was also nice to have students with different climbing skills because the more advanced climbers encouraged and advised the novice climbers. About ten students left early with Cooper to help Read (his sustainable home is now a legend at the RMS) with various projects, including some landscaping. We cleared out rocks so he could plant grass where he had to put a tube under the ground for his hydro-turbine. We finished Sunday with our second formal dinner and a square dance. Everyone dressed up in their best western attire and danced to the Virginia Reel and other songs. The night was full of laughs!
Monday morning found us running a different route than normal. The unfortunate result was that some of us got a little lost and found ourselves on the golf course, but we found our way back to HMI. The runners returned to a wonderful breakfast of fruit crisp and yogurt. In Science lab, we hiked to Turquoise Lake, stopping along the way to examine the different plant communities of the Rocky Mountains. We saw sagebrush, conifers, aspens and riparian species all within the mile from HMI to the lake. Monday night dinner was the first night of Home Cooking Week, where we cook our favorite recipes from home. Robins dish was delicious! It was chicken with olives and capers and a wild rice. It was delicious! Before Study Hall, we played frisbee and knock-out, getting in as much outside time as we could before hitting the books for our final full week of academics.
By: Betsy Bayliss, Hilary Burt, Alex Browne, and Timmins Mervin
Classes took no time starting up last Wednesday, right where they had left off before the last expedition. In science, we began studying environmental issues by examining the impacts everyday life has on the environment and discussing different ways to leave less impact. In history, we found and researched topics for an upcoming, six page research paper. Katie began preparing us in English for a test on our ability to analyze texts, and study hall was back to normal with plenty of work to be done.
Last week was one of the most academically stressful of many students semesters so far. Many euphemistically named it Hell Week. The cause of our trauma was AP tests and the SATs. Approximately one half of us took an AP test during this time with some taking as many as three. We dealt with the challenge of combining AP studying with an unrelenting RMS schedule, and handled it extremely well, though. Most notable of the tests was the AP History exam. It marked the completion of a difficult three months when we moved quickly through different eras. By the end of the class, however, we had covered Clinton and the 1990s, finishing the entirety of U.S. History. As a celebration of our accomplishments, Danny and Jessica took us out to Rosies Restaurant immediately upon completion of the test. There, we toasted to root beer floats and enjoyed filling lunches and sighs of relief.
On Thursday, everyone headed down to the Yurt for the first community meeting after the third expedition. Joh and Justine led the meeting. The subject was introspective exploration. Joh and Justine encouraged us to think about who we are, and where we wanted to go. Both Joh and Justine read several poems as examples, and then asked us to create their own explorative poems (the only requirement being each line had to begin with the words I am). We were given arts and crafts supplies to add a creative touch to the setting of our poems. Some of these creative endeavors included hockey pucks, mountains, large letters, and flames. The poems are now on the wall outside of the Copy Room where everyone may read them. This allows the students and faculty to get to know each other even better.
We thought we would dread Saturday because of the SATs, but we instead found the day to be fun-filled and of course jam-packed. Although we had to wake up unnaturally early, we were able to nap and mentally prepare ourselves in the long van ride to the town of Salida, where we were registered to take the test. It felt weird for most to be in an actual high school after three months on the gorgeous HMI campus. After four grueling hours of testing, we were finally let loose into downtown Salida, where interesting antique shops, many restaurants, and other delightful attractions abounded. Then it was back into the vans to head back to campus. The day wasnt over, however, as there were still many chores to do, like wood chopping and cleaning the cabins. Finally, after a long and productive, yet exciting day, it was time to wind down. Some students went out to dinner and to the natural hot springs with their advisory while others stayed on campus and enjoyed a delicious dinner of enchiladas followed by a relaxing movie.
On Sunday, May 7, we had our last ski day of the year! The day was again early, but the wake up worth the effort in the end. Many of us hiked up the East Wall of A-Basin and skied the sickest powder on the mountain. It was such a great experience to be our own ski lifts again; it reminded us of the winter expedition and how great it is to ski. Even those who had not skied before coming to the RMS had a blast and showed off their new skills.
We were sore on Monday, which brought another gift of living in Colorado. Coopers science classes visited a completely sustainable house in Buena Vista. The house was made of pressed dirt and runs completely on free resources. It had 10 solar panels for the electricity and only heat comes from the sun. The visit showed us how much one person can do to improve the environment and inspired us all!
By: Gregg Miller, Daly Wolfe, Laura Hendrickson, and Annie Pierce
Hello everyone, were back from Grand Gulch and loved it!
Grand Gulch runs through south-eastern Utah, about eight hours drive from HMI. The Gulch is well known for its Anasazi ruins and pictograph/petroglyph panels. Four of our five groups headed to Grand Gulch while the fifth went to the nearby Slickhorn Canyon. This trip is unique from the others in that it is student led. Immediately after Spring Break the student body chose five student expedition leaders and split into five single gender groups. Ben, Cam, Daly, Laura, and Hilary emerged as SELs (student expedition leaders) and set out to plan the trip.
All the planning and most of the logistical work were done by the student groups. Unlike the preparation for our first expedition, when the faculty had to direct us in every step of the way, we did everything ourselves, from planning rations to teaching classes. Bearing the responsibility of directing the expedition made us realize how much our outdoor and leadership skills have progressed over the semester. Our experiences on the first two expeditions allowed us to face the challenge with excitement and confidence. We could not wait to set off!
We left for the canyons on April 23, spending our first night at the overflow parking lot at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. The next day we rose nice and early, splitting into our expedition groups. From there we walked, and walked, and walked and walked. The Gulch itself was stunning. Aside from the beautiful canyon walls, natural monuments and lush drainages, the canyon was littered with hundreds of ruins pictographs, petroglyphs, granaries, and small dwellings. All these ruins were created about 1,500 years ago by the Anasazi people. These sites, often in the cover of the shade, made for great places to break and take in the history of the area.
After the first two days, the instructors left us to hike on our own. They hiked a mile or two behind us, always within range if we needed help, but also far enough away that the expedition was our own. The SEL took over as expedition leader and the instructors checked in once a day, usually in the afternoon. It was great for everyone to realize how self sufficient they had become as all the groups easily coped with all the obstacles that were put in front of them: route finding, campsite selection, bomb-proofing, Leave No Trace, and harsh sun and warm temperatures. Being a student leader was completely enjoyable and not the least bit stressful because every group shared the responsibilities, cooperating and doing everything they could to have a great time.
We took a lot of homework with us on the expedition, including a history essay, science field studies and a species account, and English reading and journaling. The work load seemed immense, but all related to the Canyons we hiked through. Dannys history essay asked us to consider the environmental impacts of the Anasazi and compare them to current human actions. We read Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and essays by Terry Tempast Williams for English. The difference with this expedition, however, was that there was much more free time on this trip, and since we were on our own we could figure out how to manage our time. A lot of the time we would get up early to hike before the sun became too hot. We would arrive in camp with the whole afternoon to enjoy the gorgeous hot weather and work on our homework.
It was an expedition to remember because we did it ourselves, had an amazing time, laughed a lot, and discovered how much we are capable of achieving.
By: Cam Deamer-Phillips, Ben Hayes, Andi Wang
Hello everyone. The last few weeks have been busy with Parents Weekend, spring break, and a variety of activities.
The Friday before Parents Weekend was a normal class day, but an unusual excitement filled the air. We had two rounds of chores that day (an evening session in addition to our morning chores) before heading out to meet our parents at Mollys house. While we were cleaning, our parents mingled with each other at a cocktail party at Molly and Christophers home. After the party, we reunited with our parents after two whole months and headed out together for a dinner in town. After dinner, we came back to HMI for more mingling around a gigantic bonfire. We enjoyed hot chocolate while various groups performed different acts. Saturday was full of classes and time spent showing our parents all that we have achieved at the RMS. After a huge amount of Johs delicious gourmet food and lots of dessert at dinner, we all squeezed into Whos Hall for the slideshow. The slideshow encompassed all expeditions and various activities on campus. It was touching and also gave our parents a fuller idea of what goes on here at the RMS. The slide show also made everyone realize how much we have accomplished this semester.
The Parents Weekend classes represented all we have learned this semester. During English, we recited our Parents Weekend Poem, which was a page of reflection of the semester so far. This writing showcase generated quite a few laughs, and gave us a chance to thank the moms and dads who let us venture alone into the mountains. Science tested the creativity of students and parents alike, as Cooper challenged us to choreograph group interpretive dances that represented certain geologic phenomena, such as the subduction of an oceanic plate as part of the plate tectonic theory (luckily Cooper is good at explaining things). RMS outsiders also experienced discussions in Spanish and History classes, and Nancy and Karl challenged parents to remember what they could from high school Calculus and Pre-Calc. The highlight of the day was probably an hour-long P&P class in which all parents placed themselves on a leadership grid (an area of the parking lot divided into four large quadrants) under the guidance of Christopher Barnes. The exercise split the group into four basic types of leaders: drivers, spontaneous motivators, relationship masters, and analyst-architects. The fun came when we were allowed to shift our parents into their proper quadrants, usually moving our parents more towards the driver quadrant (clean your room NOW!).
After spring break, we took a 3-day Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course. During this 20-hour course, we got certified in CPR and WFA. We learned what to do when we see someone injured or come across an injured patient in the wilderness. Classes consisted of lectures about different illnesses and injuries and how to identify these, whether evacuation is necessary, and how to best prevent injuries and illnesses from getting worse. Then we would go outside and have scenarios with one injured person while two others had to figure out what was wrong with the patient. These scenarios, although in a safe environment, helped cement what we learned in the classroom and gave us confidence so we could actually perform first aid in a wilderness setting.
On Sunday, we had the unusual wake up at 7:00 AM for a breakfast of fruit crisp and yogurt for our preparation of spending the day in Colorado Springs visiting a small liberal arts college, Colorado College. After an information session, we had lunch in the cafeteria and then proceeded to get a tour from a current student. When we retuned to HMI tired from our day in the sun, we all looked forward to a full week of classes.
Monday marked the beginning of the week with preparation for our student-led expedition in P&P class and a great science lab that we conducted on the Arkansas River. In the lab, we determined the velocity of different sections of the river such as straight aways and bends, measuring both the inside and the outside of the curves. We will continue to learn and grow here in the mountains by finishing off this week with our student-led expedition to the Canyons.
Our next report will come after our Canyons trip!
By: Leo DesBois, Carly Osborne, Alex Jong, and Sylvie Lam
Last Monday started out with another 4-mile run to the railroad tracks. We came back from the run to find a nice breakfast of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes. During science lab, we took a field trip to the local fish hatchery and saw many types of trout and cutthroat. The Leadville fish hatchery is the oldest in America, and they breed fish to stock rivers all over the West. Ed, who supervises the fish hatchery, allowed us to feed the fish. They swarmed to the surface in a huge mass at the first sight of food. We then had P&P, where we talked about group sociology and development.
Tuesdays AMX started out with field games. We then had a good breakfast and started off a great day. For activities, we had a choice of ultimate frisbee or a jam session. The Tang Team and the no-colors played a very tight game of ultimate frisbee. During overtime, the school fire alarm accidentally went off, putting everyone in a state of confusion. The sly No-Color team took advantage of this quandary and threw the frisbee over Team Tang and into the end zone for a game-winning catch! Jam session was an expanded version of the nightly Cabin 3 concert. Led by Seth and Nico, everyone grabbed some sort of object to act as an instrument, harmonically playing together.
Wednesday morning started out with our usual walk through the woods, followed by a second big breakfast of pancakes. In science class, John, the science apprentice, taught us basic geology, which led to many bad geology puns. The class rocked! Advanced Spanish reviewed the subjunctive and discussed the novel Y No Se Lo Trag La Tierra, while Katie assigned English students a poem to write and read to their parents on Parents Weekend.
On Thursday we took our first run to the fish hatchery, which was about the same length as wed been running before, but more of a challenge because of the hilly terrain. On Thursday, Katie took her English classes into town where they discussed various readings over coffee and brownies in the coffee shop. Karl offered another one of his popular trips to tutor at the local elementary school during activity period while other students cleaned up the road outside HMI and honed their skills on the climbing wall. Later, AP US History students enjoyed at night class at Dannys house, during which we discussed causes of the Great Depression over pizza.
We began our Saturday with a brisk 2-mile walk to the Beaver Ponds. Theres nothing better than a walk in the sunshine to get your day going. After classes, Cooper began shuttling groups of us into town, first to the Laundromat and Safeway, and then to downtown Leadville where we shopped around for about an hour. That night we were given the choice to watch movies (Seabiscuit or Get Shorty) or just lounge around campus for awhile. The night ended quietly as everyone was tucked in bed by 11pm.
Sunday morning we woke to find a blizzard outside our window. We were all very excited because we were going to Ski Cooper at 11:45. We enjoyed sleeping in, and at 10:29 we walked through the several inches of fresh snow and went to brunch. At Ski Cooper we found refuge from the wind on the back side of the mountain, and had a great four hours skiing the fresh powder. We got back to HMI at about 4:30 and prepared for our first formal diner at 6:00. Following the delicious diner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes prepared by Joh, James treated us to a slide show of his trips to Denali and Mt. Blanc.
For our science lab Monday, we went to Turquoise Lake. There we discussed glaciation and its effects on the landscape. From the shores of the lake, formed by a glacier, we could see Mt. Elbert and Massive, also formed with the help of glaciers.
Announcements in Whos Hall before lunch were a barrel of laughs as usual and at 5:30 some of us helped to make a quarry in the snow for the construction of an igloo. After a wonderful diner of barbecue chicken and baked beans, it was study hall. Then off to bed at 9:45 to prepare for another full week.
Up next: Parents Weekend and then Spring Break!
By: Brooks Ross, Matt Sinderbrand, Nyssa Rusterholz, and Terrance Word
Hello everyone! We are back on campus after a wonderful winter expedition.
The expedition was fabulous in every way. In addition to our academic and winter camping work, we had many chances for other spectacular activities, such as summit attempts of Mt. Buckeye (over 12,000 feet tall) and Horseshoe Mountain (almost 13,900 feet high!). The trip up Buckeye was led by Molly. None of us could remember the last time our Head of School or principal led us up a mountain on skis in the middle of winter! The views from the summit were great. We enjoyed some well earned snacks and a quick photo shoot at the top before heading back to camp. The scene on top of Horseshoe was a different story. There we were, almost 14,000 feet above sea level, in a white out, with snow blowing everywhere in the harsh winds. Stevens thermometer registered one degree! The crazy weather on the summit made everyone feel even more proud. If we can make the summit in such conditions, and have a blast doing it, we can do anything! We were also lucky enough to get several inches of fresh powder during the trip, and our campsite was near a decent sized hill, so we, advanced and beginner skiers alike, spent many great hours skiing down and climbing back up the hill.
The trip was definitely wintery! It snowed ten out of the twelve days that we spent in the field. As the temperatures often dropped below or close to zero, it was essential for us to stay warm and dry throughout the trip. Each morning, we woke up early and slipped on our moon-boot-like Neo boots to keep our feet warm as we made breakfast and boiled water for hot drinks. We then made sure to change into fresh socks before snapping on our ski boots for the day. At night, we melted plenty of snow for hot drinks during dinner and always played raucous games to help us warm up before curling up in our sleeping bags. We slept in snow shelters called quinzhees (similar to igloos). Quinzhees are pretty amazing structures, although they take a whole lot of work to build. We built the shelters ourselves by first shoveling up huge piles of snow and then later hollowing these piles out. Although the construction often took hours, you should have seen how much pride we took in our work as we made sure each wall was smooth and the floor even. The best part about the quinzhees was how was warm they were. As we learned in Coopers science class, snow insulates at 32 degrees. So on the below zero nights, we slept in shelters we had built ourselves that were almost 40 degrees warmer than the outside air! Though staying warm and dry in the winter was a tough task, seeing the sun set over snowy mountains every night is definitely worth the effort.
During the snow filled expedition we continued with our studies. For English, Katie assigned us the book Winter. It was neat to read about winter while a huge blizzard was going on outside our quinzhee. We also wrote several journal entries that will help us remember what an amazing experience this trip was. Cooper assigned us a group field study, which was a species and tracks account. For the field study, we looked at green cover in wooded areas versus open areas, digging snow pits to figure this out. We found some very interesting data, such as that wooded areas had more green growth, possibly because the crust layer of snow formed in open areas made it hard for sunlight to reach the green cover to help it grow. In P&P, we read an article about group dynamics among adolescents and how they transfers for adults. The reading was a great addition as we were working so closely with other teenagers and the faculty.
Although it was a whole lot of work, our expedition was more then just keeping warm, skiing lots, and doing school work. In fact, we left plenty of time for fun. We were always able to find plenty of ways to entertain ourselves. For example, we brought along a bat and a ball for some snow baseball. While the effort was mostly to get us moving and warm, we all had a great time sliding for home or diving for fly balls in inches of powder. Although we brought other props as well, we relied on our own personalities and the group for most of our entertainment. We gave each other food names according to our ancestry and Harry Potter names (we wont say who was Moaning Mrytle), laughed about skiing abilities (or lack there of), and listened to tons of ridiculous stories. Even though the so called inside jokes of the trip continued endlessly, there were always plenty of games to be played. At night, there was nothing better then going to bed with smiles from that nights rounds of Disco and Animal Kingdom.
Overall, it tended to be those times when we laughed the most (amazing, these moments also occurred at times when we were working the hardest and learning the most) that we will all remember.
By: Rob Eliott, Joy Shure, Ellie Whiteford, and Robin Woerner
Last week was incredibly busy. In addition to all our classes, we skied every afternoon to get ready for the winter expedition, cooked up a storm during International Food Week, and engaged in fun cabin competitions for spirit week!
Monday began with science lab. We learned about plant adaptations, and Cooper and John set up an experiment to simulate the process. The best part about the lab was that they used freshly baked brownies as the main prop! Cooper and John baked three types of brownies. The first set had toothpicks sticking out in all directions. These brownies depicted plants that use thorns to ward off predators. Cooper and John covered the second group with plastic wrap. These brownies simulated plants that use a waxy coating to protect themselves. The third set, wrapped in red plastic, was a disappointment as they tasted extremely salty. But these brownies represented plants that use poison and markings to ward off predators! In each case, we had to eat the brownies with our hands behind our backs because we could only rely on our taste buds to determine whether each brownie set was safe to eat. The experiment was designed to show us how difficult it is for animals to break through plant adaptations, and it really worked!
Tuesday was the second day of spirit week: 80s Day. We dressed up in different costumes that defined the 1980s. Unfortunately, as most of us experienced little of the decade and have different ideas of the fashions of the time, we ended up with a wide variety of costumes. After classes on Tuesday morning, which included a continued look at the role of water in the settling of the West in history and preparations for our first paper in English, we headed out to Ski Cooper for the second day of Ski Week. The progress we were making on telemark skies was amazing. The first time skiers headed down more difficult trails in control, and the advanced skiers started tele turns! We also had a great time learning from the faculty and other students outside the classroom. The support and laughs that everyone offered each other definitely made our community tighter.
We combined the cuisines of France and Italy for dinner Tuesday night. In this Fitaly, we started off the meal with appetizers of sparkling cider, cheese, bread and an olive oil dip. The main course was baked pasta with all the stops and a tomato and mozzarella salad. We then served chocolate mousse for dessert.
On Wednesday, we dressed up as though we had just gotten out of bed for it was Pajama Day. In history, we participated in a town meeting on water and irrigation. Danny and Jessica gave each student a role to play in the meeting that discussed the benefits and drawbacks of damming and irrigation. Our meeting featured an American Indian, who argued that the dams were killing salmon, his source of food, and others, such as the power administrator who claimed that dams exponentially increased electric power in the West. This town meeting was a fun way for us to get many sides of an issue presented by the actual people affected by it. We were quite a site that afternoon at Ski Cooper, dashing down the slopes in polka-dotted pajamas! It was Indias turn to host dinner that evening and all the great spices made for a wonderful combination.
Thursday began with a four mile run. The four mile run is two miles to the railroad tracks and back. Once everyone came in from the run (our longest yet!), the amazing smell of cinnamon rolls for breakfast lifted our spirits. Thug Thursday highlighted the fourth day of spirit week, and the costumes were very creative and fun. After classes in our bling bling and doo rags, the Thugs went sking. Before that, however, we discussed functions in math class and prepared for the expedition by discussing winter shelters in P&P. By Thursday afternoon, all groups skied off the big lift, and the advanced skiers looked like they had mastered the telemark turn. We cant believe how much we improved in just one week!
We started out Friday with a large game of Ultimate Frisbee for AMX. Classes continued throughout the morning. AP US History had a big unit test, Katies English classes worked on outlines for our paper that analyzed western poetry and its portrayal of American Indians, and we presented our mammal posters in Coopers class. For the past week, we have researched a different mammal we might see on our winter trip. The Friday presentations gave us all something to look out for on the expedition. Its great to have a science class in which we learn about things we will see, feel, and live among for two weeks! Ski Week ended on Friday afternoon with a bang. Dressed in jackets and ties, the boys headed down the slopes, their ties flying behind them! The stares from skiers on the lifts said it all!
We all awoke early Saturday morning for a walk/run with Katie to the Beaver Ponds. It was a beautiful and warm morning for AMX. After our normal Saturday routine of breakfast and chores we had Saturday morning classes. In Science, Cooper prepped us for our field studies for the winter expedition. This got most of us very excited for what we are going to do and see when we are out in the field. Bens Intermediate Spanish class had their first test on Saturday as well. After classes and a great salad bar for lunch, we all piled into the vans for our trip to town. This wasnt just any normal trip to town, however, for the town of Leadville celebrated Ski Joring. It was amazing, as the town covered the main street with snow and ski jumps. Horses, running at full speed, pulled skiers through the course and over the jumps. The sight of houses pulling skiers flying through the air proved to be something very amazing that many of us have never seen before. After Ski Joring, we headed to the Laundromat do laundry and to Safeway to stock up on food for the expedition.
Once we got back to campus, we turned into lumberjacks for wood chopping. Surprisingly it was a blast, and it ended up as just one large snow ball fight. After our wood chopping session, we had an incredible Japanese dinner. Worn out from a long but fun day, we settled down for movie night with Back to the Future and Pirates of the Caribbean as our viewing choices. It was nice to just lay back and relax before our long winter expedition.
Preparation began in earnest for the winter trip on Sunday. After brunch, James issued us our skins and avalanche transceivers, and we headed out to Tennessee Pass in our expedition groups. The backcountry snow and terrain were so different from the slopes on which wed been sking all week. It was great to get a taste of what the winter expedition would be like. We slowly inched our way up hills through forests of barren trees, but in the end it was skiing down hill that proved to be the real challenge. With such a variety of ski experience in each group, half of our expedition group would fly down with ease while the other half struggled, sometimes using nearby trees as brakes! Everyone worked together as a team, however, and everyone had a blast. We were exhausted when we got back to campus, but came home to International Weeks last dinner, a Lebanese meal featuring a delicious baklava dessert. Monday, the day before the winter trip, was full of activity as we prepared for the expedition. It was a busy day in our expedition groups, spent rationing food, distributing supplies, and getting excited. Everyones a little nervous about the new challenge to come, but were eager to learn and have a great time on this new adventure!
By: Brooks Ross, Emily Chant, Gil Conly, and Justin Silverman
We are getting into the routine of the RMS. Monday and Tuesday consisted of the normal academic class days. Before classes, however, we had AMX. On our run to the beaver ponds and back, our improvement demonstrated that we are adjusting to the altitude. In Coopers science class, we dug snow pits for lab, examining the different layers of snow and their facets and rounds. Digging in snow past our waists, we analyzed the snow pack and its stability. On Tuesday morning, Jamess AMX was a ski conditioning workout. The exercises prepared us for next weeks skiing. In Dannys history class, we started the exciting debate on historian Fredrick Jackson Turner. Many believe Turner was the founding father of western history, but now many of his ideas on the development of the West are disputed. In Katies English class, we started watching the adventures of John Wayne in Stage Coach as part of our unit on representations of the West in literature and popular culture.
Wednesday started with a beautiful walk through the woods surrounding HMI. It was the perfect way to start the day because we had the Fredrick Jackson Turner trial on our minds. Our US history class charged Turner with misrepresenting Western history in his famous thesis, The Significance of the Frontier in American History. We all had different roles to play, ranging from defense and prosecution lawyers to witnesses, such as a frontier farmer, a western coal mine, and a Native American. The best part about the whole thing had to be the way that everyone was dressed. Brooks, a student who played Turner, gave himself a mustache and combed his hair in a way that made him look just like his character! Danny was the judge, and we had a jury that consisted of other faculty and staff. The two classes split their result. The jury found Turner guilty in one class and innocent in the other, proving his thesis is still open for debate!
Thursday began with another and longer run. We increased our distance to 3.5 miles, but it wasnt too bad. The runs are always hard, but once we are done it really feels as if we have accomplished something. We followed our run up with breakfast and chores; cleaning a bathroom has never been so much fun!! After chores it was off to classes. Instead of eating lunch in Whos Hall, we had Community Meeting for which Joh made some of the best egg rolls weve ever had. During the community meeting, Cooper and Steven had us write letters to ourselves. They asked us to consider where we are in our lives and our goals for the semester. Well get them back sometime in the future, and it will be interesting to see how we have grown in the interim The rest of the day went by pretty quickly with activities to break up the afternoon. A new popular activity involves visiting the Leadville elementary school with Karl. About a dozen of us will help 4th graders with math for the rest of the semester.
We started off Friday with a breakfast of eggs, English muffins, bacon, and jam that was made by several students during Thursday activity. We then continued on to our classes. We studied function graphs in math class with Nancy and Karl, and watched Katie, our English teacher, do the twist on home video camera at the age ten. Study hall went for two hours (yes, on a Friday!), and lights out was at 10:00. We woke up Saturday in good spirits, cleaned the cabins, packed bag lunches for skiing, and attended science class, where we studied the ways in which animals adapt to the cold Colorado winter. Bens Spanish classes had their first test, and Ben announced that the grades were some of the highest he has seen on the first Spanish test! After classes, we loaded up the 15 passenger vans and headed to Ski Cooper, where we all practiced our telemark turns on the RMSs telemark skis. We represented the RMS well at the ski area, wearing bright clothing and yelling Yeee Ha and Whoah Doggies as we headed down the slopes! After skiing, we had a considerable amount of free time until a dinner of baked pasta. After dinner, we loaded the vans again, this time heading to the ice rink. We skated for about 1.5 hours, and it is so much fun that you have no idea. After skating we went back to campus, chilled for about an hour, and then went to bed in our toasty cabins.
Last Sunday was an amazing day. It started off with a late wake up. We then headed off to town on an amazingly beautiful Colorado day! We divided into three groups for laundry, town time, and to man an aid station at the Leadville Loppet, a 44 kilometer cross country ski race in Leadville. One of our math teachers, Karl, won the entire race! After the racing and washing was over, we headed into Leadville to purchase everything from expedition gear to decorations for our cabins. Back on campus, many of us started our school work right away because we are loaded down. After study hall, Cabin 3 began its nightly sweet jam session. The band consists of a bongo, a ukelele (u-ka-lale-ee), a banjo, a couple harmonicas, and three trash cans. Overall, it is pretty sweet!
Monday began a jam-packed week. Spirit week kicked off with Gender Bender day, in which we had to dress as the opposite sex. Spirit week is sponsored by Gregg, Robin, Ben and Ellie, our cabin representatives. Perhaps the highlights of the Gender bender theme were Alex K. in a pink polo and mini skirt and Alex J. in his plaid skirt and sweater! Monday was the first day of ski week, which preps us for the winter expedition. Our classes were shortened to 45 minutes, and we left HMI at noon to be on the slopes by 12:45. The day was again beautiful, and it was so much fun to be out with your classroom teachers learning to ski! We have a chance to get to know our teachers in such a different way thanks to events such as ski week. Some of us are experienced skiers and others are absolutely terrible, but we are all working at it, laughing a lot, and can tell that over the next 5 days we will achieve a much better standing in the telemark world.
We returned to HMI at 3:45 to start homework, have our AP US History class, or begin cook crew. This week is International Food Week, and each cook crew picks a country and a recipe from it to cook for the whole community. Mondays cook crew chose China, and pork dumplings highlighted their meal. Study hall went, as usual, from 7:00 to 9:00, which brought us to the end of the day. 45 minutes after study hall we were snug in our cabins, ready for a great nights sleep.
By: Garret OBrien, Sky Jaffe, Daniela Marino, and Julia Burns
Hello All! We are now in our second week of classes and the semester is in full swing.
Last Monday, the RMS had its first day back on campus after the canyons expedition. James, the FOD (faculty-on-duty) split the students into three groups (Team Curling, Team Bobsled and Team Alpine) and assigned us into different activities throughout the day. These included a wood chopping lesson with James (which turned into a snow shoveling session as well), a ride to the Ski Cooper registration office to get season passes, and a trip to the Laundromat. Most of us were relieved to get our expedition clothes washed! The highlight of the day for the students was the visit to Safeway, the local supermarket, where we loaded up on snacks and other needed items. The day ended with the first study hall, in which students completed homework for English (readings about the legends of Coyote) and other unfinished business.
Tuesday was not only Valentines Day, but the first day of classes for the RMS. Morning exercise (AMX) was a chilly walk down to the beaver pond followed by breakfast and chores. We have become increasingly better with our chores, and have begun to really appreciate the space we are assigned to clean. Even the bathroom crews watch over their areas with care! The first day of classes went smoothly. In English, students discussed the Coyote stories and the animals propensity to create havoc everywhere he goes. Katie also gave us an assignment to create a log of our expedition in the form of an index, which was a source of delightful reminiscing for all. We discussed The Legacy of the Civil War in AP History, using the text to predict how the second half of American history will turn out. The midday activity period also proved to be a fun event for all. While the faculty had their weekly meeting, apprentices held activities during which we could make valentines, use the climbing wall, play field games or try to understand the Brazilian dance fighting sport, Capoeira. The tiring day ended again with a much needed study hall because we had been assigned massive amounts of homework.
Classes continued on Wednesday. In history we discussed Barry Lopezs Rediscovery of North America while working on discussion techniques such as employing evidence to support our points and listening attentively. We began a unit on snow science in, appropriately enough, science class. We learned about the different types of snow and the weather that creates them. After lunch, we studied radians in math class. Dinner was delicious buffalo burgers. After study hall, we retreated to our cabins, and cabin three had their nightly mad jam session until it was time for bed.
Thursday began with a 1.5 mile-run along the road. It was our first run at altitude and was quite a challenge. During our community meeting, Karl and Danny reviewed conflict resolution and the importance for the semester of direct communication and feedback. After lunch, we went extreme sleeding in Leadville. Ben's Spanish classes read a book completely in Spanish about the life of Cesar Chavez in preparation for our study of Chicano influence in the West, and other classes continued as normal. The cook crew made pizza for dinner. It was amazing and quickly devoured before we headed off for another night of study hall.
More classes and activities marked Friday. We started with a morning AMX of field games with Karl. We started off with Hospital Tag and moved into 4-ball soccer. 4 soccer balls and 38 people on the playing field in 0 degree weather created a lot of fun, confusion, and hilarious moments! Friday started off with Advanced Spanish, where we watched the wonderfully acted movie El Marachi. Math with Nancy was, as always, exciting. We started off class by talking about how she became a tattoo artist before moving on to a class about functions and domains. We felt that they go together perfectly! After math, we made BBQ chicken in cook crew. We had to pull apart the whole chickens, which was really fun and a learning experience.
We have classes on Saturday morning at the RMS. We continued to talk about snow in science and prepared to dig snow pits. After lunch, we had free time until it was time to chop wood .lots and lots of wood. Our wood stoves will never be cold! In fact, the other night our cabins made it up to 75 degrees! After free time, we had a dinner that included ice cream for Seths birthday! We then headed to the wonderful Leadville Skating rink. We played broom ball, people fell, and Nico, one of our Canadian apprentices, showed off his wonderful skating abilities. The night ended with a dance party in Whos Hall and lots of relaxing!
Sunday started off with a much needed sleep-in because we were all tired from a long week of classes and from skating the night before. It was really nice to stay in bed until 9:00. It was a good thing that we were all well rested, because we had a full day ahead of us: it was our first ski day at Ski Cooper. The faculty divided us into groups depending on our ski level, and we then hit the Colorado powder! The groups ranged from people who had never skied to expert telemark skiers. Each group had one or two teachers from the RMS to instruct the students. Under clear Colorado skies, we worked on everything from learning how to stop to full fledged telemark turns. After skiing, we came back to HMI and had a few hours of free time before dinner. Some students rested while others did homework. After a long day, dinner was fantastic. We had fajitas, and Lief made his family recipe for Molasses Pie, which was amazing. Later that night, we also had cabin representative elections. The cabin rep attends the weekly faculty meetings to represent the students interests. Congratulations to Ellie, Robin, Ben and Gregg!
Overall, it was a great week and we cant wait for the next one!
By: Lief Amber, Abby Beaudette, Charlotte Buck, and Alex Kahnweiler
We are back from our first expedition to the canyons!
Aside from one short rain shower, the weather in the canyons was beautiful. Looking out on the landscape, you could see for miles, something we RMS students are not used to back home in our home cities and towns. As we journeyed through the magnificent canyons of Utah, there was a surprise around every corner, whether it was a ninety-foot pour-off or a family of big-horned sheep. Some days we hiked for up to six miles, while traveling shorter distances on days when we had a lot of classes or traversed especially steep paths through the canyons. The views, however, were always breathtaking. The days were sunny and warm, so we saw little snow, although we did find a few frozen waterfalls covered in icicles. The expedition was a giant loop that covered about 30 miles in total. We saw a lot of Native American pottery and petroglyphs. Everyone was really surprised at how much detail was still visible after so many years. A highlight of the trip was hiking up and down the Sundance trail that descended about 1000 feet into Dark Canyon in less than a mile! It was a really challenging hike, and it pushed our limits, but everyone made it down with a positive attitude. No matter what challenges faced us, having the privilege of learning and living in the canyons motivated all the students to have fun and feel great about the whole experience.
In the midst of our expedition, it was easy to lose track of the idea that we were still in school and not at a camp. Despite the excitement of backpacking through canyons and over mesas, we had designated study and class time. In scenic, peaceful spots, we enjoyed all our school work. Classes were hands-on and real. How could they not be when readings and discussions covered the surroundings we hiked through, and geology classes centered on the ground we walked on? In our English class, Katie had us keep a journal. It really gave us a chance to reflect on our experience and feelings about the group. In our P&P class, we discussed an article by William Cronon about the idea of wilderness and the best way to preserve it. After two weeks hiking through the wilderness, we certainly had great, although often differing, perspectives on the issue. For science class, Cooper assigned a field study of an ecological aspect of the canyons. We chose to study local trees, plants, animals, or the geology of the area. Dannys history classes read the The Use and Abuse of History by Howard Zinn. The article set up our history class for the semester, challenging us to consider how we look at history.
Our first expedition also allowed us to practice skills that wouldnt otherwise come into play in everyday life. Our first lessons included setting up tarps and packing packs. Over the course of the expedition, we watched as our experience grew and our tarps became tighter and more wind-resistant and our packs more streamlined. We had many classes teaching us about cooking food over a one-burner stove. We learned how to make delicious pizza, bread, and cinnamon rolls from scratch. Many of us were amazed at how easy cooking became after just a few nights of living in the backcountry. In addition to cooking, we learned how to respect our environment through the seven LNT (Leave No Trace) principles. Skits about LNT helped us understand each principle. Now we all know how to live and travel without having a negative impact on our surroundings. One of our most important skills classes was the navigation class. We learned how to decipher maps and how to use a compass. Other skills classes focused on relationships and leadership. We learned how to overcome conflict amongst peers through honest communication and employing strategies such as VOEMPing (vent-own-emphathize-plan) so now we can use conflict resolution to make our everyday lives around campus or anywhere smoother. All in all, our classes helped us stay safe, happy, and full.
Its amazing how close you get to people when you live with them for 14 days. We had only known the people in our groups for 4 days before we were sent out into the canyons of Utah together, knowing it would be necessary to depend on these strangers to function. The rate at which our groups became close was incredible. The leaders taught us many techniques that would help build a strong group. Every night we had circle. This was one of our favorite parts of each day because we got to debrief the day and express our feelings on how the day had progressed. Circle was also accompanied other activities as well, such as astronomy lessons from Dawn and usually an amazingly fun group game such as Mafia or Animal Kingdom! The games kept spirits high and the things people said at circle allow us to get to know each other better and also to realize what an amazing experience we are having. We are so fortunate to have met all these amazing people and gotten to know them so well!
By: Alex Browne, Joanna Cowen, Betsy Bayliss, and Hilary Burt
Greetings everyone, from Leadville and RMS 16!
This first week at the RMS has been full of excitement and challenge. We have spent the past few days getting to know the other students and faculty and have already made many friendships. Our first night at the RMS we were all nervous, but as soon as we entered the Yurt for a soothing First Circle, we all began to feel comfortable. We shared our thoughts one at a time by passing around a rock that Molly has used to open each Rocky Mountain Semester. The first day we woke up early, and Danny led us on our first group walk for morning exercise (AMX). It felt great to get up early, and mingle with new friends as we enjoyed the sunny Colorado weather. Following the walk, we began a series of announcements, and our community began to form. That afternoon we discussed leadership skills in the Yurt while also eating an amazing lunch prepared by Joh. That night we took a walk and saw the most amazing stars. Karl pointed out the Big Dipper and many other constellations new to us. The sky was beautiful and we couldn not stop looking up at the stars that we had just learned of.
The next day at RMS was full of even more excitement as we began discussing our first expedition, and the faculty gave us our academic schedules filled with many different and interesting classes that challenge us in many ways. That night Molly gave us two pieces of paper. On one piece, we wrote an expectation we had for the RMS. On the second piece of paper, we wrote our fears for this semester. After we had written out our thoughts, Molly collected them and we all headed out to a bonfire. We read aloud our collective fears and expectations before throwing them into the fire! Molly explained that by burning our preconceived notions, we were opening up the semester to a whole range of possibilities. The night was very powerful, and was made even more special because we followed it with creamy, warm, and delicious smores!
Molly Barnes and the Rocky Mountain Semester have brought 38 students together from all over the country for our semester that began on Wednesday. The start of great, lifetime friendships is only one of the many great things from our first few days at the RMS. Although we have only been in Colorado for 3 days, it feels like the students and faculty have known each other for years. The boys cabins are full with 8 boys and the girls cabins each house 11 girls. Although this makes for tight living space, we would not have it any it any other way as our cabins have already become small families. There are so many kinds of people at the RMS that we cannot help but have our minds opened to new ideas and people. With students from the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast and everywhere in between, it is fun to see how 3000 miles and different environments can make people so different and interesting. It will be exciting to see how each of us grows and blooms during our next four months at the RMS.
We have had each of our classes during the first few days of school, and our teachers have introduced us to the subject matter that we will be dealing with for the rest of the semester. In Science, Cooper took all of us outside for an experiment in active learning. We did jumping-jacks in parkas and stood with one foot in the snow and one foot on a foam pad to demonstrate heat loss concepts. In P&P, we discussed ways to improve our lives, such as being organized, always picking up after ourselves, making eye contact, and being on time. Katie gave us our English assignment for the first expedition. We will keep a journal and record our various experiences. The math classes covered the basics. We discussed how the course would be run (grading and whatnot) and what materials we would need for class. The foreign language teachers explained that their classes would go beyond language skills. Bens Spanish class, for example, is going to study the Hispanic borderland experience and the influence of Chicano culture in the United States. Danny, the history teacher, warned both AP and survey students of the challenges that lie ahead, and, in assigning us all to read the The Emperor Has No Clothes, preached the importance of us all fearlessly sharing our ideas. In all of our preliminary classes, the underlying message and focus is a common one: work hard and be prepared to learn on expeditions and in the classroom. The teachers have displayed a superb amount of energy for their subject-matter. Each one takes their class seriously and talks about it passionately. They seem to have great care for the development of our wealth of knowledge.
Another adventure that this week has brought is the preparation for our first expedition to the great canyons of Utah. We all are so excited to go to one of the most beautiful places in the United States! While most of us have never been to the Canyons, the preparation has excited us. We have learned the different methods of how to pack our packs and how to dress properly to stay warm and dry. Our expedition leaders have taught us how a Whisperlite stove works, how to construct the tarps that we will be sleeping under, and ever how to tie the correct knots for our tarps! We cant wait to be in the backcountry sleeping under the stars. We have rationed all the food, and we have to carry all twelve days worth on our backs! We get to bring candy bars for our midday snacks and hot coco for the cool nights so the food will be awesome! When we get out to the canyons, we will have cooked all of our own meals, even learning how to cook a backcountry pizza. Most of us have never cooked a pizza, let alone over a one-burner stove in the backcountry! The entire process from reading about the canyons in our Natural Science class to learning what kind of coat we will need has made thoughts of the first expedition so exciting, and were not even there yet! We cant wait to tell all of yall the exciting stories we have when we have returned! Wish us luck!
By: Gregg Miller, Laura Hendrickson, Timmins Mervin, and Reidie MacDonald