Posted by: Stefan Anderson | January 12, 2014

To Play – Shani Middleton-Ayers



~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS7 student Shani Middleton-Ayers. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Shani is from Indianapolis, Indiana where she attends Herron High School.~

To Play

Conserve School Learning Goal: Frequently takes time for outdoor play and reflection.

One of the things that drew me most towards coming here to Conserve was the huge focus on allowing us and encouraging us to take part in an endless number of outdoor activities inside of the classroom and out. I am never without something to do. At the very least I have endless access to trails to hike, and the list of fun and challenging activities only goes up from there. During most of the outdoor activities I participate in, I am enjoying them so much, I forget that I am actually learning or serving the community.

For the most part I try to take advantage of all opportunities to get out and do things that I can. I have only been here for about three weeks and I have already done so much: some big, some small, some incredibly challenging, and some incredibly fun. In classes we have done so much outside. From the get go we spent nearly every single Earth Art class outside working on some Andy Goldsworthy inspired pieces. I have to say, some quiet time spent outside manipulating and rearranging nature really does some good for the soul. I have done some really interesting things in my core classes as well. In history we didn’t just sit in a room and take notes, we took the whole class out in a voyageur canoe and we all read essays we had written, and we hiked out to Lake Elaine to work on single track trails. In English we went outside and stuck monster faces on trees (I don’t even want to get in to explaining that). Of course we spent some quality time outside in Field Instruction working on canoeing skills and a few backpacking basics. I got into just as much outside of class. I have really been getting into this whole “do something with your free time” thing.  Temp Shani 2I have done so many things in such a short time since I have been here I could never get into them all but a few highlights were getting to do a little archery, rolling around in a giant pit of mud, and stargazing.

The more serious side of the learning goal that I have chosen is the reflection. I have definitely been able to and encouraged to spend a lot of time reflecting on the things that I have done. It seems as if every project assigned to me requires at least a small paragraph reflection. I really appreciate it though. In the moment that I am doing thing I get so into it and its okay to enjoy myself, but it is also nice to take time afterwards to think about what I did and most of the time get a little insight into either myself or the world around me. One example of this is in my Earth Art class. After each subject we focus on, we do couple paragraphs of reflection. We just finished our focus on our Andy Goldsworthy inspired works and I took some time to do my reflection and I really got to think about what I was doing and what I can learn from what I was doing.

~Shani Middleton-Ayers, Conserve School Semester 7

More photos from Shani’s semester at Conserve 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.


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