Once families had said goodbye, our new Conserve School students gathered in the Commons, a grassy, open space between Donahue and Elaine House with picnic tables, benches, and big boulders just the right size for sitting on. Phil DeLong and Cathy Palmer, Directors of Residential life, along with Graduate Fellows, who oversee and participate in a whole spectrum of residential and extracurricular activities, went over important safety procedures like fire drills, mixing it up a little with icebreaker games to help students learn names and begin to get to know one another.
The Commons gathering was followed by a walk to the nearby Lowenstine Estate, on Black Oak Lake, for a barbecue, more socializing, and a group photo. Then, after a walk back to campus, Elaine House and Donahue House residents (i.e., girls and boys) met separately in their houses, with their respective staff members, to sort out House rules and learn about residential routines and expectations.
Meanwhile, teachers and other staff members were busy setting the stage for our opening ceremony, held outdoors after dark. Once the ceremony concluded, it was back to the residence houses for more chatting, settling in, and bedtime.
In the morning we continued educating our new students about Conserve School life by sending them in groups from station to station to learn about composting, recycling, dining room chores, and recreation center rules and equipment.
Once all of these topics were covered thoroughly and students were up to their eyeballs with bits of information about Conserve School life, we took a little more relaxing approach to the afternoon and headed out for a leisurely walk around campus and the trails, visiting all the highlights and stopping at staff members’ apartments to see where the staff live and to enjoy some homemade treats. The picturesque ramble through the woods provided an excellent opportunity for students and staff to chat with one another about where they came from, why they came to Conserve School, and what their special interests are. Students traveled around together in six groups of about ten students each, with one Graduate Fellow and one administrator accompanying each group. As orientation progresses, we mix students up into lots of different small groups in order to facilitate them getting to know one another quickly.
After dinner, students enjoyed some unstructured time and an impromptu game of ultimate frisbee.
And that brings us up to date on Sunday evening. Watch for another update soon!
Thank you to Graduate Fellow Rebecca Deatsman and Science and Art Teacher Robert Eady for contributing these photos.