Posted by: csdailyblog | February 6, 2012

CS4 Begins!

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We’re poised to begin our first “real” day of CS4: classes start tomorrow at 7:50 am. Students have endured with good humor the whirlwind of orientation activities: getting-to-know-you “ice-breakers,” like the activity you see above, where students are using one another’s backs as writing tables; touring campus, meeting staff family members (including dogs and cats) during visits to staff apartments, walking all the way down to the gatehouse and up Black Oak Lake Road to the Lowenstine estate; and learning the routines of everyday life here at Conserve School, including composting, kitchen and serving duties, recycling, and marking their whereabouts with magnets on the dorm check-in and check-out boards.

Some highlights of the first few days of CS4:

Standardized testing, the NWEA Measure of Academic Progress, took up the morning and early afternoon today with a computer-adaptive test of reading, mathematics, language mechanics, and composition skills. Required by our accrediting organization, this test is administered on the students’ laptops, is untimed, and adapts itself to the students’ individual ability levels, which makes it somewhat less onerous than the traditional paper-and-pencil versions.

We try to keep things light at Conserve School, even when topics are serious: after standardized testing, Head of School Stefan Anderson addressed students on the topic of major school rule violations with the assistance of Foghorn Leghorn, a giant stuffed rooster. Foghorn, the mascot of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Association, travels to a different Wisconsin environmental organization each year; this year, Conserve School has the honor of hosting him. Foghorn must not have been properly prepped on Conserve School rules before he moved in, however, because he arrived at the meeting toting a bottle of vodka. Clearly, Foghorn needed a review of major rule violations, and both students and rooster were thoroughly educated by the end of the discussion.

Next on the agenda, Student Life Coordinator Kim Spagnoli and her energetic assistants, the Grad Fellow Operations Team members, injected some humor into the dress code segment of orientation by putting on a fashion show that dramatized what not to wear at Conserve. Much discussion ensued on knotty topics like the distinction between pajama pants and flannel pants, whether camisoles are classified as underwear or outerwear, and where exactly the line is drawn between a rip in jeans small enough to be overlooked and a large tear that would be unacceptable. After a detailed dissection of the dress code, it was on to library orientation with Martha Krumenauer, Academic Coordinator, during which students had their first chance to check out books, videos, and CDs.

We’re learning that each cohort of students has its own distinct character. As we anticipate each new semester, we wonder what the new group will be like, and how it will be different from previous cohorts. While we haven’t had a lot of time to get to know the CS4 students yet, so far they have impressed us as an unusually friendly, unself-conscious, easy-going bunch.

On to classes!

– Mary Anna

P.S. We need a few days to learn names, and then we’ll start adding captions and student names to all of our blog photos.



  1. Thank you for making this an easy transition! I know that my daughter is in great hands. She keeps telling me how awesome everything is! YEA What a fantastic semester this is going to be!!

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