Semester 42: First Weeks on Campus!

This week Luis Guillermo Benites visited HMI to give a talk to the students about the extreme mountaineering adventures he has been on in his life. He explained the immense amount of work that it took to accomplish a goal of summiting the famed Seven Peaks, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Alongside this accomplishment he also formed a career out of his childhood dream of becoming a professional mountaineering guide. In order to achieve this goal, he had to conquer his extreme allergies and asthma, that for the beginning years of his life, limited his exposure to the outdoors. He inspired the students of HMI to be very conscious of the goals that we create for ourselves and refrain from abandoning them, to keep pushing ourselves and moving toward our ambitions.

After returning from expedition two weeks ago, our academic routine has begun to feel normal as we delve into many different interesting subjects and assignments in each of our classes. We are learning about different forms of education and the writing American History in our History class, focusing on the flaws and biases in each of the systems. Our math classes are unique from the courses at our sending schools, but many of us are practicing working together in small groups to solve complex problems relating to our math curriculum at home. In English we are reading Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, who touches on the Laguna Pueblo culture and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. We also just finished our analytical essay on the literary devices in a passage from Red by Terry Tempest Williams in our English class. Practice and Principals is focusing on discussing and hearing different viewpoints regarding what humans relationship with nature should be and how we achieve this. Those who take Spanish learned the song “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony, covered different grammar tenses, and wrote a short essay about a memorable moment from expedition. In our Natural Science course that focuses on ecology, we learned about why we have winter and different weather patterns. One very interesting thing that we learned and practiced this week took place in science class when we learned the different causes for why it snowed the previous night in Leadville and then we practiced explaining it by acting as meteorologist and presenting to the class.

This weekend was very fun because HMI got to participate in the Leadville Loppet on Saturday! Students and faculty either participated in the Loppet by cross country skiing a 10k (or 22k for some faculty) or helped to run aid stations. The race started off with blizzard-like conditions for the first mile, and many of us found ourselves questioning whether or not we would be able to finish the race. Luckily, it got much better after the first mile; seeing our classmates cheering us on and giving us snacks and Gatorade at the halfway mark definitely boosted our morale. Besides our large numbers of people, we also made sure HMI was strongly represented with our enthusiastic cheers and silly costumes. We all had an amazing time in the race, whether it was our first time skiing, or one hundredth. Once we all crossed the finish line, we went to the CMC gym for awards and lunch. There was lots of laughing and sharing of our race experiences as we ate soups and listened to the award ceremony. We were well represented during the awards ceremony — the top 3 girls in our age range were all from HMI, as well as 2 out of the top 3 for the boys. On Sunday, we had classes in order to make up for the school that we did not have on Saturday. Despite the fact that it made our usual 6 day school week one day longer, people did not complain because we were all so grateful that we got to race on Saturday. The Leadville Loppet was an incredible and bonding experience, one we definitely will not forget!

This week on campus was alive with discussion about our community and how we’ve integrated over the course of the first month of our semester together. On Monday, during flex block, we all met in Stuen Hall to voice our “pluses and deltas,” or positives and areas for improvement, regarding our language, inclusivity, and overall group dynamic. The conversation was student-led, which facilitated a powerful and productive conversation about communicating more often and more effectively with one another. We established group norms like respecting peoples’ identities and backgrounds in an effort to create a more accepting community, as well as being receptive to feedback from peers.

Individual cabins have also been having conversations about group dynamic on a smaller scale. We are dividing up tasks like chopping wood, shoveling the pathways, and keeping the fire going on a nightly basis. In Cabin One, there are three birthdays this week and we’ve been planning festivities and lots of chocolate! The community is also buzzing with excitement about Ski Week, when we all learn how to telemark ski for our second exped, which is rapidly approaching. In the meantime, we have been spending time on the rock wall, doing yoga in Stuen, and catching up on reading for English.