no. 5

Hello everyone!

Two days ago we had our our first snow at Chewonki and as you can probably imagine it was very exciting. There were a few people who had never seen snow in real life before and that was crazy. At first I was unimpressed because in Vermont we get snow every year, but then everyone started running around and laughing their heads off so the mood elevated quite a bit.

The last time I wrote I was about to come home for a few days to perform VYD’s A Twist on Oliver for the second time. We first performed it in April, but we were invited to perform at a different venue at the beginning of this month. That was one of the most incredible experiences. I almost didn’t believe I had it in me to come home from school for 4 days and perform a full show with only 2 rehearsals. It all worked out though. The show was absolutely amazing for the dancers and for the audience, or so I am told.

Coming home was a little weird which was to be expected. I’ve been surrounded by people at all hours for the last few months so having alone time was novel for sure. I couldn’t decide if it was relaxing or offputting. I got to sleep in my own bed, alone in my room, and share a bathroom with only 3 other people, not 11. I got to cook my own food which was really nice. Although the food at Chewonki is crazy good, it felt nice to make meals for myself. I also got my phone back, and I used it way too much. Part of my plan for Thanksgiving break is to limit my technology access. Other things happened at home too. I had a meeting with my advisor from SBHS, which meant that I went to school and saw everyone there. Some people at Chewonki come to get away from their sending school but I really love the people in Big Picture and in my life in Vermont. I’m excited to be able to see them more often when I return for good, but of course I am savouring every moment in Maine.

When I returned to Chewonki, things were a little crazy. I had missed a ton of work. I did homework almost all day last Saturday, aside from a laundry room dance party and a trip to a local Goodwill. But, I gained some major perspective in only 4 days at home. I realised how much I love it at Chewonki. Everything is so interesting all the time, and it feels like my headspace is much clearer than it usually is at home. There are less distractions, and people are right there with you instead of having to access them through a screen. The only thing that was a bit of a bummer about returning was that I had to get used to a new English teacher. Just before I left, my English teacher, Eli, had to leave the semester because of some complications relating to a previous concussion. He’s okay, it was just hard for him to focus on teaching instead of healing. That kind of threw me for a loop because Eli was one of my favourite faculty members in the school; someone who I really trusted and looked up to. Our English class runs a little differently now. While it isn’t bad, I don’t feel like we get to the depth of discussion that we did before. We do still have incredible material though. We just finished analysing a graphic novel called “Here” by Richard McGuire, and a book of poetry by Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K Smith, “Life on Mars”. For the poetry, we all wrote an explication on one piece in the collection. This type of writing was previously unknown to me. They haven’t been graded yet, but I think it was a very interesting exercise to really dive into meaning behind words.

Another thing that happened was that we all got our midterm grades and comments. We all received comments from each of our teachers, as well as our advisors. They were insightful and individual, showing that each teacher pays close attention to the strong and weaker aspects of each student during class. I really appreciated having feedback for what I could work towards, as I feel like grades are often given with no explanation on how to improve. Later today I’ll be having a meeting with my advisor at Chewonki to talk about my grades and my Human Ecology Capstone Proposal. The Human Ecology project is similar to an STP so I’ll be doing both at the same time, as one. The proposal was an assignment earlier this week in which we were meant to outline our project idea, the problem that it was addressing, it’s significance, and the methods that would be used to accomplish it. I had to do lots of research which proved to be incredibly interesting and I spent even more time on it than I needed to. This was not the best of ideas because this past week my cabin also had to wake up earlier than usual for farm chores. I lost a bit of sleep doing homework, but that was okay.

Every morning for the past 2 weeks, the girls of South Hall woke up at 6:10 am, put on layers and layers of clothing, and trekked over to the Chewonki Farm. My chore was to take care of the chickens. First, I would bring food to the 4 baby chick cages. The chicks were super cute in the beginning, but they grew a lot over the course of our farm chores. They’re still cute, just a little older and not as fluffy. After they were fed, I would bring all 4 chick water containers out to the pump, dump out the dirty water (cracking the ice out if needed), and refill them all. When the chicks were fed and watered, I would bring grain and water to the hens. Other people fed the sheep and cows, milked the cows, took care of the horse, and turned the compost. After chores were done, we took turns carrying milk and eggs back to the kitchen.

Other news: science field trip two weeks ago was to the salt marsh, last week it was to a fish ladder, a dam, and a culvert at an old mill site to study fish passage and stream connectivity, and I just got home from a trip to a bog and a pond. Bog ecosystems are so cool and totally unique. We saw pitcher plants and lots of super old trees that were tiny because of nutrient deficiency. Also, I’ve been catching up on lots of art homework lately. Today we did some linoleum block printing from a self portrait project, and in a bit I’ll be finishing up a project based on invasive species.

Tomorrow is our last day of classes before Thanksgiving break so I’ll be leaving Maine once again on Sunday morning. Saturday will be a day to show all of the parents around and let them participate in some of the things we do all the time. Everyone is starting to prepare. On Tuesday afternoon, a few people and I made fancy menus for all the dinner tables on Saturday night. People are planning workshops and music. It should be quite exciting. And then we’ll be off!

xoxox

gretel

p.s. the picture this time is from wilderness trips which was a long time ago but I still think it’s cool. Peep me getting into the canoe.

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