I was reading a press release and looking at some pictures today that triggered a bunch of memories and got me thinking about the intensity and all encompassing nature of the small school boarding school experience.
It’s like living in giant extended family. You do everything together in a small boarding school.
In the case of Midland School‘s Experiential Week, that means heading off campus and working on projects together- as a unit.
Reading the stories from Midland School’s Annual Experiential Week, I couldn’t help but get taken back to my work in boarding schools of just over 100, or so, students- the way everyone worked together, pulled for each other, rallied around common causes and goals.
A lot of schools offer experiential education, weeks, terms, or off campus projects. Midland, though, adds the small school variable to the experiential project. They load-up entire classes; students and faculty head off to work together almost always to a project dedicated to the greater good- something beyond their personal pursuits.
Take a look at what Midland Students did this during this year’s Experiential Week:
Freshmen, led by the American Tall Ship Institute, spent three days on the 137′ schooner “Bill of Rights.” The class sailed out to the Channel Islands, practicing circumnavigation of one or more of the islands, hiked on Santa Cruz Island, hoisted and lowered the sails, stood watch, dropped and pulled up the anchor, cooked for one another, saw dolphins, and learned about maritime history and marine biology.
Sophomores started the week with a 3-day backpacking trip in the local San Rafael Wilderness along the Manzana Creek. Next, they took part in a wind workshop with Mathias Craig ’96 and a crew from blueEnergy, installers of community-supported wind turbines and water filtration systems in Nicaragua. In two days, they learned how to build a small wind turbine (adapted from a Hugh Piggott design) from the raw materials of hand-carved blades, powerful magnets, copper coils, and a rotor assembly.
Then, they returned to campus and broke ground on Midland’s 9th 3-kW grid-tied solar array, which will help power the well pumps. Over the course of three days, the students worked alongside faculty members and Gary Gordon of Santa Ynez Valley Solar digging post holes and trenches, assembled a ground-mount structure, and mounted the modules onto the racking. With its completion, almost 25% of Midland’s communal electricity needs are met with solar arrays installed by 10th graders over the past 9 years.
Juniors traveled to Mascota, Jalisco, Mexico for a two-week cultural immersion and Spanish language experience that included a home stay with individual families. As part of this cultural and language exchange Midland students lived with families who have high school-aged children, went to school for the two weeks that they were there, and participated in any and all of the families’ activities.
Seniors spent the week interviewing or interning with experts who are working in each senior’s area of interest as part of the work toward completing his or her Senior Thesis. This off-campus experience is designed to give each student specific and concrete insight into his or her thesis topic and career interests.