Posted by: Stefan Anderson | October 14, 2014

In Love with Our Steps

In Love with Our Steps

Sometimes its hard to realize when you’ve found a special place.
its not.
When our feet first stepped on damp ground and into forests that smelled like perfumes of moss and trees and sunshine and life, the way we walked changed.
The steps we took became no broader nor shorter, the speed of our pace didn’t change- but instead the weight of our steps.
Trudging through muck became privilege instead of punishment, pulling up weeds and feeling dirt under our nails became more than something required and more than school and more than work and more than obligation.
using our bodies to accomplish and to live and to create and to nurture wasn’t optional anymore.
I think that’s when we knew, this place was something more than ordinary.
I think that’s when we knew that this place was somewhere different.
You can see it in the way the teacher’s eyes light up when they take us outside, you can see it in the way our mentors smile not at a day without rain, but at a day with lots to see. You can see it in the way our words jump off of each other and the way connections are made like honey dissolves into tea.
you can see it in the way the clicks of our heels sync up without a pause and the way the corner of one smile turns into the corner of the next and how one side of all of our faces got sunburned on the same day…and none of us noticed.
you can see it in the way we sometimes hold things that are a bit too heavy and show off the soreness of our backs because we’re proud of what we’ve done.
you can see it in the way that when one of us hurts, we all hurt, and that one of us has a good day we laugh together- even if its over the little things, like how you named your hammock something weird or how that package you got looked more like a boiled potato than a box, or how you had an encounter with a flying squirrel that ended up in friendship.
you can see it in the way that more often than not our whispers turn into talking that turns into screaming and shouting and exclamations and suddenly it gets so loud we don’t know even who is talking anymore.
I knew this place was something more than ordinary, when not knowing who was talking, felt special.
I knew this place wasn’t somewhere ordinary, when hearing a chorus of voices where my own used to be felt like privilege.
where we crawl together, we walk together, we march together, we stomp together. Where we used to look at our own feet, we now look at our foot prints, and this time, it means something.
This time we know what we’re doing, and we know what we’re doing together.
This time we know that we are not just ordinary.
This time, we let ourselves come together.
This time, we fell in love with our steps.




~This blog entry shares the words of  CS 9 student Rowen Lohmann. Rowen shared this poem with the Conserve School Community during the Family Weekend Semester Showcase on Saturday, October 11th.  Rowen is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.~

You can help Rowen’s quest to attend the Woolman Semester in the spring by clicking here.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 29, 2014

Deck the Walls – With Art!

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Students have been busy in their art classes this semester and the walls of the Lowenstine Academic Building are decked out with examples of their work. This morning I took a moment to sample a few of the pieces on display with my camera so that you can appreciate the work these students are doing with our art teacher, Nancy Schwartz.


Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 27, 2014

Standing By at Pictured Rocks

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Two of Conserve School’s Exploration Week groups are hiking along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore this weekend. The area is known for its beautiful sandstone cliffs, beaches, lush forests, waterfalls and trails. It also includes historic sites like the Au Sable Light Station. Because this national park area is about 180 miles from Conserve School we have a couple of staff members spend the week in the area to provide assistance if necessary. This fall Assistant Director of Student Life Sherrie Daubner and Director of Dining Services Scott McFarland took the assignment. Yesterday they hiked to the Au Sable Light Station. Along the way they passed through the camp of one of our groups and met them briefly. They sent back some photos from their hike to give us a feeling for the beauty the two Pictured Rocks hiking groups are encountering.


Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Phil DeLong | September 26, 2014

Autumnal Splendor

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Campus is quiet today, with students (and most staff) having departed campus Thursday on their six-day backcountry camping trips. Mother Nature is cooperating in a significant way, with unusually mild temperatures, sunny skies, and a spectacular visual show provided by peak autumn color. We hope these photos might provide a glimpse of the beauty that we’re experiencing in the Northwoods right now. Enjoy!

Phil DeLong
Director of Enrollment and Student Support

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 26, 2014

Exploration Week Begins

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Yesterday Conserve School students headed out across the Northwoods for Exploration Week. During Exploration Week students spend six days (five nights) either on the trail along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, hiking the North Country Trail or canoeing through the Sylvania Wilderness Area and surrounding lakes. In this blog entry it is my pleasure to share with you a few photos from three of the canoe groups.

You can explore the Sylvania Wilderness virtually using the map above. Over the next few days students will be camping on many of these lakes including Loon Lake, Clark Lake, Crooked Lake and Mountain Lake. For reference The Conserve School campus buildings are located just north east of Big Donahue Lake.


Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 24, 2014

Painting the Sky

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Some of the most exciting things at Conserve School happen outside of the classroom. Last night was an example of this. The conditions were optimal for photographing the stars. The autumnal sky was clear and crisp with no bright moon to interfere. These conditions worked to the advantage of students Heather Luedke, Ruby Krietzman, Jayleen Rossi, and Joe Faulkner who set up their cameras and were treated to not only some great stars, but a guest appearance by the Northern Lights. Using tripods, 30 second exposures, and low F-stop settings the Nikon cameras took some great shots. I regret that I was not on the hill last night and I expect that other students and staff may have taken some additional pictures. These students were the first to share their pictures in the community photo server.

Please enjoy the photos.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 23, 2014

Dig that Dugout

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In history class students have been learning about the adventures of Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery. Teacher, Michael Salat, never seems to be satisfied with just explaining the topics or having the students read about the adventure in the class text, Undaunted Courage. He always seems to find interesting ways to get them to interact with the work. This week, after the students practiced hollowing out a canoe from a giant log and making wooden paddles, he sent them out onto Little Donahue Lake in a crude dugout canoe. After experiencing the feel of paddling the canoe, the students couldn’t resist the warm weather and warm water so they soon found a new way to immerse themselves in the experience.

I hope you enjoy the photos that student Heidi Putnam and I took of this activity.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 22, 2014

Students help out at the Land O’ Lakes Community Garden.

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Last Tuesday a group of students accompanied Graduate Fellow Donelle Scaffidi to the Land O’ Lakes Community Garden. They were met at the garden by Corrine Duerkop, the chair of the Land O’ Lakes Community Garden Committee. Student Zoe Stack took a few pictures of the activity and had this to say about it:

We went to the Land O’Lakes community garden and helped to harvest some of the last of the food growing there. We harvested beets, tomatoes and lots and lots of carrots. All the food we harvested was donated to the food pantry. Before taking it to the pantry the vegetables had to be washed and have their tops removed, many of us helped in this activity.  In addition to harvesting we were winterizing the beds by pulling out all the remaining overripe vegetables such as tomato stalks, and taking all the remains to the garden compost.

I was really excited to go on this activity because I love working with soil and pulling vegetables out of dirt really helps you to remember where you food comes from. It helps you to relate to food more definitively. I have also never worked in a community garden before and I was intrigued to see how it functions.

A big thank you to Zoe for sharing this activity with us and to Donelle and the students for their community service work in support of the Land O’ Lakes Food Pantry and Community Garden.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 21, 2014

People’s Climate March

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Today more than 300,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City. The march is being held in conjunction with the United Nations climate summit that is being held later this week. We had heard that a few Conserve School alums were planning to attend this event. Here are some photos from those alums. More photos will be added to this post as they are received from alums. CS7 alum, Clara McCurdy said, “It was amazing and empowering to see how many different people all support one cause – our earth.” 

We were happy to see so many photos posted on Facebook from the Green Schools Alliance‘s Student Climate & Conservation Congress group. We have added some of their photos that included Conserve School alums to this post.

Posted by: Stefan Anderson | September 20, 2014

Sylvania Pizza Hike – CS9

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This past Friday I invited eight students to join me and my faithful dogs Teddy & Copper in a stroll through the Sylvania Wilderness Area to Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. Knowing that the hike would last through supper time, we called upon the assistance of my wife Jennifer to order pizza ahead so that it would be waiting for us at T.J. Grizzlies. Hiking the 6.7 mile route took almost three hours. We followed trails on the Conserve School campus and then bushwhacked around Big Bateau Lake to Cub Lake. For the bushwhacking portion I gave cheap compasses to the students and poor maps and then let them find the way. We picked up a trail at Cub Lake that we followed into town. After consuming 3.27 large pizzas we walked 200 yards further for dessert at the Dari-Maid Drive In. At that point, tired and full, we made use of one of Conserve School’s Sprinter vans that Jennifer had graciously driven in for us and drove back to campus. A good time was definitely had by all!

One of the wonderful things about working at a Semester School is that twice a year I have the opportunity to share my favorite things about Land O’ Lakes with a new group of talented young adults. They always thank me, but in reality I think I get more out of the exchange because there is a special magic in watching an appreciation for things you love being born in someone else’s heart.


Stefan Anderson
Head of School

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