Semester 37: Snow, Solo, and Science Trips!

It’s been eight days now since we returned from Thanksgiving break. We had a joyous reunion at the Denver airport; most of us sporting new haircuts and outfits from our other homes. This airport experience was drastically different from our first one back in August. Instead of awkwardly introducing ourselves to strangers, we bombarded each other with smiles and hugs as we saw each familiar face walk into the terminal. Everyone came back to HMI feeling refreshed, and ready to dive into another few weeks of classes. We started right away with a science trip to the Leadville Fish Hatchery to learn about endangered Greenback Cutthroat Trout, and began new electivities such a metalsmithing, climbing, math art, photojournalism, and waste warriors. This coming week, the apprentices will be teaching the units they have designed for their respective classes. These next few weeks will be bittersweet with December 18th descending upon us, but everyone is excited to put forth their best effort in classes and maximize the time we spend together.

As the semester (sadly) comes to an end, students are making the most of their time here. In cabins, sleep all of a sudden seems less important than staying up to play cards around the fire while talking. The time we have before and after meals is no longer a chance to check out what’s going on with our friends back home, but rather an opportunity to start a puzzle, play in the snow, or jam out in the lounge. Just last night, we held a talent show, or “coffee house” as we like to call it. It was similar to the one many of you attended on Family Weekend, except only much goofier. Marshmallows were eaten, spaghetti was thrown, and Dr. Seuss rhymes were rapped, to give you an idea. The night ended in a song about friends and home, resulting in tears and smiles. We had a big group hug, cleaned up Who’s Hall, and called it a night. And oh, the snow! When we got home from break, everything was covered in beautiful, sparkling snow. Now, we have to shovel paths to cabins and buildings. But, we get to have snowball fights, icicle fights, and play games of broomball (a great game you can read about in another section)! Because it’s gotten so cold, fires are a must in the cabins. Some cabins have even created schedules for students to return to the cabin at different points throughout the day to stoke the fire, and make sure the cabin is warm when they all return for the night. And finally, AMX. AMX these past few days has been an extra challenge, because waking up in the dark to run in freezing weather is never easybut it will prepare us for the upcoming 10 mile Fun Run!

At the end of every HMI Semester, each student participates in a 12-24 hour solo in the nearby woods. Everyone is assigned a plot of forest, and this often allows for them to feel like they have a space for themselves. When one is seeking solace or alone time, they can sign out walk to their spot. This resource also enhances HMI’s mission to connect students to the natural world. Some students have even created labyrinths, forts, and other structures using the nearby rocks, logs, and branches. With time students’ connections with these solo spots form another home for them at HMI. Some on-campus Sundays are “Sacred” as well. This means that there is not a formal activity (like going climbing, skiing, or rock climbing), but instead we spend an hour at our solo spots, as well as relax and catch up on work. A lot of HMI consists of constant activity and stimulation, and Sacred Sundays allow for students to decompress and take a breath before a new week starts. The inclusion of solo spots during these days truly centers students, and although they only have to be there for one hour, many spend a lot longer there. Solo spots and students’ relationships with them speaks to the strength of the connection that HMI students are forming with the natural world.

Winter is upon us here at HMI, and outdoor activities are in full effect. The favorites so far are cross country skiing, and broomball. For many of us, cross country skiing is a new way to explore the outdoors during a season we might otherwise spend inside. Thanks to our biweekly afternoon activities, a few groups have gone out together to explore the wooded trials behind HMI on skis. Having discovered a new interest in skiing, it’s become common to see groups of kids walking out to the gear room to borrow skis at the beginning of a free period, and coming back an hour later covered in snow, sporting big smiles. Broomball, a version of hockey played with brooms and a volleyball, is another new obsession for us. Whether it’s Cabin 2 challenging Cabin 1 to a match, or a spontaneous lunchtime pickup game, we’ve all been having a blast out on the broomball rink/parking lot.

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