Posted by: csdailyblog | December 10, 2012

Lowenwood: The Best Neighborhood

~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS5 student Chase Ammon. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Chase is from Washington, DC and he attends School Without Walls Senior High School.~

Conserve School Learning Goal: Understands James R. Lowenstine’s love of Lowenwood, a love that moved him to make a remarkable and enduring gift that would engender that same love in young people and inspire them to be stewards of the natural world.

Chase

Chase

When I first caught a glimpse of Conserve School, the word “inspired” floated through my head. I drove up North Black Oak Lake Road with my face glued to the window, oohing and ahhing at everything I passed. We arrived and were directed to the LAB. I took a picture in front of James Lowenstine’s quote, and went in to check in. After signing up for my health inspection, my mother and I visited the museum. I was shocked to see so many stuffed animals on the walls. In DC no one stuffs animals. I understood that up here it is common to have deer heads on your walls, and that is understandable. However, when I glimpsed the endangered African animals I was appalled. How could James Lowenstine, the creator of Conserve School, do something like this?

Entrance to Estate

Entrance to Estate

Then I began to read the signs, and saw things in a new light. During much of the mid-1900s, conservationists often killed animals. It furthered their knowledge and appreciation of wildlife, and it brought a more personal level to what needed to be conserved. While I consider myself a conservationist, I would probably not go and shoot a deer – yet alone a rhino! However, James Lowenstine lived in a different era when norms were different. What he was doing was not only appropriate, but admirable. After realizing this, I felt ashamed of myself. I had thought ill of the man who made my whole experience here possible. Our views are a little different, but that’s a good thing. James Lowenstine was without a doubt an environmental aware and caring individual, and he exhibited this on many different levels.

Lowenwood Estate House

Lowenwood Estate House

My respect for Mr. Lowenstine increased even more this week when I visited the estate with Brooke and Katie. I’d been there before, but had never realized this: the estate is not a showy place at all. Mr. Lowenstine had a lot of money – he had stacks on stacks, as some would say – yet he was a very humble and reserved individual. He did not pride himself in having a large, flamboyant house. His house was reasonably sized. While he could have expanded his father’s house and created a mansion, he did not. He did not do this because Lowenwood is already so grand and beautiful by itself. Defacing it with a blemish such as a loud and superfluous household would not only be disrespectful to the land, but would show blatant distaste and ingratitude for such a magnificent place.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

The estate is the perfect size – it is reserved, yet beautiful. It is one of my favorite places on campus. However, I could not name the most inspiring and beautiful spot at Conserve. Every day I discover new, wonderful things – new plants, new animals, new land, and new emotions. I can’t help but feel humbled when standing under the yellow canopy of the changing leaves, and grateful for the opportunity to be here. This school is one of the most magical places I have ever been, and I’ve been to Disney World!

Lowenwood

Lowenwood

I love everything from the lakes to the bogs. I love the colorful trees in the fall and the naked branches as time progresses. I love the warm waters in the summer and the frigid waters that creep in. I love the porcupines waddling around and the eagles soaring above. I love the stars at night and the fog in the morning. I love the northern lights and the superlative full moon. I love the azure of the October sky and the constantly changing weather. I love Lowenwood and love the remarkable gift that Mr. Lowenstine left.

Sunset

Sunset

Whether Mr. Lowenstine meant to or not, he transferred his love of Lowenwood to everyone who has every visited. I love Lowenwood, and will look for aspects of it throughout my life. This place will always be remembered and appreciated, and I will go forth in life as a steward for not only Lowenwood, but places like it all over the world. If one stops to observe a place, he often observes minute details that make the place special. I have learned to appreciate these things, and will hopefully go away from here with the open mindfulness to find the beauty in even old, burned-down forests.

~Chase Ammon, Conserve School Semester 5

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