Semester 38: Life on Campus

In our second week back after third expedition we have gotten back into the swing of academics on campus. In lab on Monday we were in the Arkansas River catching, sorting, and analyzing morphotypes of benthic macroinvertebrates (think small to medium size bugs that live in the riverbed) as indicators of pollution from California Gulch. Leadville’s mining history puts us in an amazing location to study acid mine drainage in our local waterways and access how it affects the ecosystem! Standing in the running water was chilly and brought some of us back to the icy water in the canyons during first expedition. Instead of writing a usual lab report, we made posters to display the results of our studies, a method we will all likely use in college and in the future if we choose to pursue a career in science.

In Josh’s English class, we finished reading Leslie Marmon Silko’s CeremonyCeremony is a novel about Tayo, a WWII vet and member of the Laguna Native American Tribe struggling to understand how his culture’s stories and ceremonies fit into the modern world as well as his own life. It is certainly a complicated text with many nuanced themes and patterns and has lead to many great discussions. On Friday we went on a mindful walk to brainstorm ideas for what we want to write our Ceremony essays about. Many of us have chosen to analyze a pattern or motif while others wrote theses about the traditional stories and Native American agency.

This Saturday, some of the HMI students got to take the SAT! After everyone was done, we rotated between going into town and chopping wood. Students who didn’t take the SAT headed into town in the morning for some brunch or hung out on the back porch in the sun, sitting in the hammocks and playing guitar. For Saturday night activity, we hosted our second open mic of the semester. Along with cookies, chai tea and a halftime show, we watched and listened to some pretty incredible acts. There were a variety of hilarious duets, some cabin sing alongs, magic shows, guitar solos, dances, and a skit. Everything was either very funny or showcased an amazing talent. All of this was followed by a quick dance party  before we headed to our cabins.

 On Sunday, we visited Colorado College (CC). In the morning when we left, it was cold and threatening rain. Nonetheless people wore shorts, anticipating beautiful weather in Colorado Springs. When we arrived and got out of the buses, it was springtime! People plucked dandelions from the side of the road, blowing them at each other. We ate lunch first, choosing from a variety of options in the CC dining hall, soft serve ice cream and cheesecake being among them. Then we had the info session. We learned all about the programs CC has, and the opportunities their block plan gives us to explore different places within the country and the world. We learned about how students at CC have access to Colorado skiing and backpacking, including in Southern Utah, which we’ve done at HMI. We then had a tour of the facilities, which were beautiful. We saw Pike’s Peak, and the Barr trail, and the soccer fields. Altogether, CC was a different experience from most college tours, and it appealed to a lot of us because of our experiences at HMI.

Monday afternoon electivities at High Mountain Institute provides students with the opportunity to put their athletic and artistic capabilities into high gear. Electivity is a block that takes place directly after lunch on Mondays, and allows students to pursue interests that they would not normally get the opportunity to practice during a normal school day. For example, some students partake in competitive games of Frisbee or soccer on Leadville’s local turf field. After a quick warm up on the jungle gym and some time mentally preparing for the big game on the swing set, they usually have about forty-five minutes to sweat, scream, and sprint on the turf. Yesterday, we had a particularly intense game of soccer and each player left with a fair share of turf burn. While we were at the field, other HMI students got to participate in making metal jewlery with Aimee, “Waste Warriors” (a recycling program for kids) at a local school, an introduction to bouldering, linoleum block painting, a dance class, or an introduction to film. With only two electivity sessions left, it seems certain that every student will be sad to see these fun opportunities start to wrap up.

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