CS16 Orientation Weekend
Emily Hayne, Wilderness Fellow

On Friday Conserve School welcomed 59 students to our snow-covered campus. This semester students traveled to Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin from locations such as Washington DC, California, Louisiana, Colorado and even Ghana to live, play, and learn in the northwoods for the next four months. Move-in day was a busy day for students and families as they went to different stations to have their photo taken, receive academic schedules and meet with advisors. As students moved into Donahue and Elaine houses on campus, so began the process of students learning each other's names and beginning plans to ski, sled, and explore Lowenwood for the semester.

As families trickled off campus, students and staff remained, ready to start the semester with student orientation. After dinner, the community gathered and a warm welcome was shared by Head of School, Stefan Anderson. He said that the students and staff of CS16 can work together to create community by being supportive of one another and adhering to the school values: respect, honesty, justice, compassion and responsibility.

Later in the evening everyone gathered under the stars to learn about James Lowenstein's adventures on the property. We all held candles to light the night and students shared their hopes for the semester. Included in this ceremony was a quote from James Lowenstein's vision for our students, "To the future young folks of Lowenwood: I wish you all love, hope, happiness and a long and healthful life. May your understanding of mankind be broadened through your association with and, I am sure, your love of Lowenwood." This semester, students will be immersed in the outdoors in class and during free time to reflect on their understanding of environmental stewardship and how they can love and care for the land.

On Saturday students toured buildings and participated in a campus exploration activity. Learning the layout of campus is just the start to the students' understanding of Lowenwood. Afterwards, a number of staff hosted optional activities including snow soccer, a jam session, sledding, wildlife tracking, hot cocoa and conversation, and tower gardening. We hope that over the semester students will reflect on opening weekend as a time that they formed connections to their peers and staff and had fun exploring Lowenwood.

On Sunday students were assigned laptops and participated in a game of Jeopardy to review some of the information that was shared with them throughout the weekend-- there was a lot! After lunch, students gathered in their wings and were provided time to meet with one or two staff members to engage in conversation, create a positive wing culture, and participate in an afternoon activity. Some groups went snowshoeing on Big Bateau Lake while others went sledding on the hill. This was a great time for students to check in with staff to ask questions and get to know their wing-mates better.

Following dinner on Sunday, even after the busy schedule of the weekend, many students showed up to the recreation building to participate in optional activities such as soccer, rock climbing, and games such as Apples to Apples and Chess. If it is not evident by now, the 59 students have already done a lot at Conserve School! The next four months will be just as opportunity-filled for our students in class, during after school seminars, workshops and weekend activities.

Conserve School thanks the families and friends of CS16 for sharing their young adults with us for the semester. It was a wonderful first weekend, full of hard work from both the students and staff, and we are confident that the positivity and kindness shared this weekend is a wonderful sign for the adventures ahead. More stories to come from CS16!

Here are a few photos from the first weekend of CS16. To see more, visit our CS16 Orientation Album on Facebook.