Semester 39: “Here, alive, together, in the fleeting present moment”

The first official day of winter is December 21. In hearing this, we imagine the picturesque scenes of the holiday season, huddling around a warm fire with family and friends while snowflakes fall softly to the ground outside. On October 2, we awoke to a blanket of white snow covering the ground, motionless and untouched in the morning air. The sky lay out above us, a singular milky cloud that obscured the view of the mountains in the distance. Each tree bowed towards the ground, weighed down by the pockets of glistening powder. For some members of the community, this was their first time seeing snow in October. For others, this was the first time that they had ever witnessed the breathtaking beauty of snowflakes at all. Snowball fights and wide grins of amusement plagued the campus outside each building throughout the day. During our two mile run, each step pressed the snow deeper into the ground, creating a flattened path of unique footprints. The frigid air stung our throats at each breath, and reminded us that we are here, alive, together, in the fleeting present moment. The frozen landscape around us glistened with a piercing reminder of opportunity and gratitude for the time we get to spend at HMI.

Another busy, wacky, and fun week at HMI! On Tuesday night during cabin meetings, each cabin elected a representative. We nominated individuals who we believed were extremely hard working, caring, and generally went above and beyond to uphold HM values. This decision who to vote for was tough considering how many stellar students we have here! Being cabin rep is one of many exciting leadership opportunities here at HMI. Cabin reps attend faculty meetings to bring up any issues the community is facing or to suggest any changes the student body wants to implement. Essentially, they are the official link between faculty and students. They help the students make Semester 39 unique from any past or future semesters. Another exciting leadership opportunity is Leadership Leadville. Twelve HMI students worked to build a curriculum of team building and leadership games for the sixth graders at Lake County Middle School. We will be going to the school four different times, with two HMI students leading the same group of twelve each time. Last week was the first school visit, and everyone had a blast! We played a rowdy game of sharks and minnows, a name game, flip the tarp, and more. Each game was followed by a debrief where we asked the sixth graders to reflect on what went well and what could be improved. We are so excited to go back and develop a closer relationship with the students in the weeks to come!

With academics getting into the swing of things, we are fully immersed in school. For science, we are finishing up our watershed unit with the study of the local Dinero Mine and its effects on the local bodies of water. We journeyed up to the old mine shaft to conduct pH sampling and to see firsthand the effects of the mining run-off on the area. In English, students have been reading the book Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. The book tells the life of a Native man named Tayo and his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his fight to fit in between the “white” world and life on the reservation. Within the lines of this book, students learn about the struggles and losses of Native people. In US History, students are learning about the Puritans and original settlers of America and their relationships with the Native Americans. This unit ties together the history of Native American life that we are reading about in English to help create a full understanding of the material we are learning.

The weekend started off with a bang due to our very first coffeehouse! Students showed off their various talents in a night filled with laughter, singing, and dancing. Acts ranged in style including a well-balanced mix of poems, songs, dances, improvisation, and more. Whole cabins participated in the action with performances from Cabins One, Three, and Six. Cabin Three may have ran away with the show, however, with their energetic and flashy fashion lip-synching performance of “I Want it that Way” by the Backstreet Boys. On Sunday, a group of students headed out on a hike at 9:00am with our “possibles bag” and packed lunches prepared for a snowy day, while others chose to enjoy some time to relax and sleep in. After driving for 20 minutes we arrived in our own personal winter wonderland. Snow was everywhere around us as we peered out the windows of the bus mesmerized by its beauty. After having some difficulty maneuvering through the slick, icy terrain in the bus, we quickly altered our route to climb East Ball Mountain instead of the originally planned Dyer Mountain. As we trudged our way up the snowy peaks, a smattering of wind gusts splashed snow against our cold faces. The off-trail nature of the hike meant we could only see pure, fluffy, white powder up ahead. As we ascended, snowballs and laughter filled the air. We reached the summit after crossing a tight ridge-line with surreal views of the surrounding mountain ranges to either side. The summit itself was a place of pure beauty and snow came up to our knees as if it were a greeting, welcoming us to a traditional Leadville October. Following our descent, a sudden snowball fight ensued down by the buses. No one escaped its snowy fury, not even our faculty and apprentices. We then all got into the buses and headed back to campus. We got back around 1:00pm where we proceeded to enjoy a relaxing day before dinner and study hall. What a wonderful weekend!

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