On August 23rd, students arrived by plane and car to their new home away from home, Conserve School, located on 1,200 acres of land known as Lowenwood. It has been a busy and wonderful first week of school in the Northwoods! It is hard to believe we are already through more than a week of school, yet it also seems like CS19 has been here for a very long time. The immediate rapport students have had with each other and with staff members makes it seem like they have been here for much longer. They have already been deeply immersed in Conserve School culture, filled with busy schedules of both indoor and outdoor activities. CS19 is a friendly, mature, and enthusiastic group of students who have kicked the semester off in many exciting ways.
It’s no secret that Conserve School keeps students active and busy learning, exploring, and bonding with both each other during their entire semester experience. The first week of school is no exception. On August 23rd, students moved into their dorms, got settled, and started developing new friendships.That first day included icebreaker activities and discussions about Conserve School community values. Students had various school orientations relating to academics, technology, and dorm life during orientation that first weekend. In the dorms, students made suitemate agreements as well as wing agreements. (Students are given the autonomy to set forth some of their own rules and gain ownership of some mutually agreed-upon behavior.) And of course, everyone attended the requisite beginning of the semester candlelight ceremony in five corners under the light of the moon.
The academic week started Monday at 7:30 am. Students by now have had a taste of each of their core classes of English (Wilderness Voices: American Literature and the Land), History (Environmental Citizenship), AP Environmental Science, and Outdoor Skills as well as electives such as Spanish, Math, Earth Art, Nature Photography, and Environmental Stewardship. Most of these classes also held at least one or more of their lessons outdoors. There were announcements at lunchtime like, “Please wear closed-toed shoes and long pants to English class today.” And “It’s raining, but we are still doing swim tests in Outdoor Skills, bring a towel and dry clothes for after you get out of the water...”
Over the second weekend on campus, students looked forward to swing dancing, a student-organized game of “capture the flag,” and ultimate frisbee. Many students chose to volunteer at the Lowenwood Lakes Trail Run on the Conserve School campus or the Bad Dash race in Manitowish Waters. There were several opportunities to get outside, both on campus and off. This included hiking at Black River Harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, paddling in the Sylvania Wilderness Area and biking into the town of Land O' Lakes. Many continued to get to know their surroundings and explore Lowenwood. Wow, that’s a lot! And I am 100 percent sure that I have forgotten other activities as well. Here we go, CS19 has begun!
Photos contributed by Rob Houle, Stefan Anderson, Jeff Rennicke, Jennifer Anderson, Miriam Sellers, and Kate Houle.