11th Grade Intensive Week - EcologyEarly Monday morning, the eleventh grade climbed into cars and headed for Stump Sprouts, a retreat center in rural Hawley. There, we quickly settled into the lodge, where we would spend much of our time, a hand-built space filled with cozy nooks and large windows to take in the stunning views of the high meadow and hillsides.

Over the course of the next 36 hours, and again from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon, students experienced community life as a class, living together, preparing meals and cleaning up after them, building campfires, singing, running trails, baking, playing Monopoly and card games, and generally having fun that included everyone. They also had daily classes.

With Ms. Costello, they explored the history and foundation of ecology, focusing on the interactions between living organisms and other organisms and their physical environment. We studied local trees and forests in Hawley, and used quadrats to sample and compare different forests in different locations.

With Ms. Bedell, students read texts by N. Scott Momaday and Wendell Berry that illuminated the different ways Native Americans and white settlers walked, honored and/or made use of the land, before going out for a walk and writing about their own relationship to the land.

On Thursday, the students spent an energetic afternoon zip-lining, before returning to Stump Sprouts for dinner, another campfire and more time in the wood-fired sauna.11th Grade Intensive Week - Ecology