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A Chance to Stretch

Each Spring, High Mowing students and faculty spend two weeks out of the classroom. They undertake a wide range of activities that are designed to lead them beyond their normal realm of experience. Many alumni attest to the importance of Projects Block and remember its significance years later, recalling their experience as a transformational moment. During the first two weeks in May all High Mowing students participate in Projects Block, using the time to explore a particular area of study in depth. Each project had a different focus and some required extended travel, beginning the weekend before. In all, there were seven organized programs and two independent studies undertaken. Below is a sampling of past project block topics.

Service in San Lucas, Guatemala

We headed to the mountains, to the small Mayan village of San Lucas. It is located in a peaceful cove on the shores of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by verdant volcanic peaks. The group volunteered in a number of areas, organized by the local Catholic Parish which is involved with humanitarian aid work in San Lucas and many nearby hamlets. Projects are funded by the Parish, but managed by local individuals, most of whom are Mayan. Volunteer opportunities included work with children, women, reforestation, building projects and organic coffee processing.

It is central to the Mission’s philosophy that volunteer work is not a one-sided gesture of aid, but part of a symbiotic exchange in which two cultures learn and give to one another. Students experienced Spanish language immersion as part of the trip, but not the main focus. In fact, no prior knowledge of Spanish was required. Most of the employees of the Mission speak some English as well as Spanish and Tzutujil, their native Mayan language. Experience our trip via the pictorial blog we kept.

International Youth Film Collaboration Project in Serbia and America

High Mowing students teamed up with the Media Education Centre of Belgrade, Serbia, to explore the history, culture and architecture of Serbia and create a series of films about what they learned. Paired with students from Serbia, High Mowing students visited the ancient and beautiful city of Belgrade, toured several fortresses, and explored museums, cathedrals, churches and ruins. Their goal was “to discover 7000 years of History with equipment for filming, animation, radio and multimedia.”

In fact, they accomplished even more – by sharing the experience with Serbian students (some of whom returned to campus with them) and learning from their warm and welcoming Serbian hosts. The students are finalizing short films on the history, religion and natural beauty of Serbia.

Metalsmithing: Jewelry Fabrication and Design

The metalsmithing group designed and created original pieces using a variety of metals, beads and stones. They learned to solder silver and copper, and shared a quick overview of the process with the group assembled to hear their presentation. Twisting wire into intricate patterns and setting stones were some of the other skills practiced. Delicate jewelry was also created using a variety of beading techniques. Their work will be on display in the Main Building.

Propaganda and Media:
How Movies Shape Public Opinion

How are we influenced – subtly and otherwise – by the media around us? This group attempted to answer that question by viewing a variety of films designed to manipulate emotions, such as “Triumph of the Will,” by Leni Riefenstahl, which promoted Nazi Germany. By examining movies, such as “Birth of a Nation,” the group teased apart the mechanisms used to shape public opinion and control audiences. Posters, products – even the nightly News – can be used to change our point of view.

HMS School Garden and Farm

Participants in this Projects Block combined physical work in the High Mowing School gardens with visits to local farms — with an emphasis on community service and a focus on sustainable food systems. Work in the school gardens included planting and preparing the soil for the new season, as well as laying the groundwork for future projects. We also visited other farms to engage in community service and learn how sustainable practices are applied to different farm settings. An overnight trip to Heifer International’s Learning Center at Overlook Farm in Massachusetts was informative and educational. In addition, we  learned about the modern food production system and how food distribution is a social issue. In preparation for this project, students will read Fair Food by Oran B. Hesterman, PhD. Check out our project blog for a better sense of our experience.

Chicago Blues

This group traveled to the Windy City to learn about a great American music form: the blues. But, because the blues originated in the Deep South of the United States, a study of the early blues was their first undertaking. Time spent in Chicago was filled with cultural and musical events: Fernado Jones of Columbia University taught them the structure of a blues song, while Harmonica Hinds instructed them on how to play a “blues harp” or harmonica. Other excursions included an architecture tour, a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, a performance of Blue Man Group, poetry reading events and comedy improv.

Independent Study in Art

Do Young An ’11 used the two-week block to study Art – in particular, Asian Art. She created many sketches of trees and figures, while studying the use and technique of brush strokes. Her body of work includes an exploration of printmaking, as well. Do Young’s artwork will be on display in the Main Building.

Community Service / Tool Shed
and Rock-Climbing Project

The rock-climbing group began their two-week block with a community service project. They built a beautiful shed to house tools for the fields at High Mowing. This shed will be used by many on our campus and was sturdily constructed from recycled materials. See a slideshow of their work building the shed.

The group then traveled to Lansing, West Virginia to enjoy the climbing at New River Gorge – an area sculpted by the second oldest river in the world. Within the 63,000 acres of New River Gorge are over 1,400 established rock climbs. "The New" has become one of the most popular climbing areas in the country; the cliffs are made of very hard sandstone, and range from 30 to 120 feet in height. Our hearty group enjoyed a variety of climbs, wildlife-viewing opportunities and swimming areas. As one student expressed, “We found each other’s unique qualities and became a family in the process.”

Independent Study in Circus Arts

Isabella Goldman ’12 traveled to New York to work with the professional circus artists at Circus Warehouse. While there, she had the opportunity to study ballet, contortion, tight wire, juggling and silks. She spent a great deal of time learning flying trapeze and practicing the strengthening skills needed to perform safely and efficiently on the apparatus.

From Alfafa to Zucchini: The ABC's of Local Area Farming

This group visited and worked on a variety of farms – including Nomadic Farms NH, our own local CSA (see write up in “Community Bulletins” section, below). The farm block students contributed time and sweat equity to get crops in the ground at High Mowing, as well as the Amherst and Temple farm sites. Twenty-two students teamed with their teachers to plant, transplant, and prepare the fields, while learning about biodynamic farming in the process. Additional trips to Noonday Farm in Winchendon, MA (which donates all its food to Haley House), Stonewall Farm in Keene (which supplies dairy products to Stoneyfield Farms), Steve Normanton’s farm (which supplies our kitchen with chicken, beef and pork) rounded out the block. There were even opportunities to harvest mushrooms and shear alpacas during the two-week period. Here is a photo slideshow of one of their day trips to a farm.

 

 

 


INDEPENDENT PROJECTS: juniors and seniors only
Forms are available in the Guidance Office. Parental permission required. Proposals
must be submitted to the Academic and Educational Support Committee by Nov 1.
KAYAK MAKING WITH KILIII YU On-Campus (supervised by Jonathan Northrop)
This project will be led by a nationally-known naturalist named Kiliii Yu. Each student will be
building his or her own kayak. The final product will be made of all natural materials, using
traditional methods of construction. This project will be campus-based. Each student will end
up with his or her own sea/river kayak.
FILMMAKING Cedar Oliver
Location: To be determined. If it is a large group, we will probably stay
locally.
We will work together as a production team to learn the organizational, creative
and practical skills needed to follow a major project from writing to final editing.
Each student will have a specific job or acting role. By the end of the project, we
will have a completed five- to ten-minute movie. Anyone interested in composing
and recording a musical score for the film is also welcome. More details
will be worked out with the group prior to project launch.
JEWELRY FABRICATION AND DESIGN On-campus Michael Noer
Students will explore a variety of jewelry making techniques. We will learn to work in copper
and sterling silver, using basic cutting, bending, hammering and soldering techniques. We
will also work with ‘found’ or ‘recycled’ objects, learning to think artistically about objects we
normally see as useless, turning them into wearable ‘artistic statements.’ Students will develop
a small portfolio of their work, including drawings through finished pieces, which will be
displayed for the school in a formal exhibition. Students will be able to offer some of their
work for sale to benefit a worthy cause of their choice.
BRITISH ISLES LONGWALKING ADVENTURE Keith & Andrea Badger
Longwalking is a rite-of-passage adventure to test oneself in unanticipated ways. It is the best
way to get to know the land and its people. This trip will immerse students into some of the
most spectacular backcountry in the British Isles. Some YHA hostels will be used, but we will
wild camp for the most part. Participants need to be in fit condition and serious about walking
long distances.
PROJECTS
BLOCK
MAY 3–14, 2010
FROM WILTON TO MOUGINS: FRANCE EXCHANGE PROGRAM Judy Wachler
Students will have the opportunity to improve their spoken French and get to know a
French family. We will begin correspondence with students in a school in southern France.
In March or April of this year, High Mowing students will welcome their French correspondents
into their homes and our school campus for two weeks. During Projects Block
we will travel to Mougins, where our students will stay with their French families, attend
some classes and visit outstanding attractions, art galleries and medieval towns in the
South of France.
ENVIROTHON 2010 On-campus/field trips Kim McCormick
Be part of team and compete in the NH Envirothon competition in May. The goals are to
promote stewardship of natural resources and to encourage the development of critical
thinking, cooperative problem-solving, and decision-making skills required to achieve and
maintain a natural balance between the quality of life and the quality of the environment.
Have fun and meet students from around NH who are interested in environmental science!
High school students will work in teams to solve real-life, natural resources problems.
Students will learn about five natural resource categories: soils and land use, aquatic
ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues. This year’s theme is Protection
of Groundwater through Urban, Agricultural, and Environmental Planning. Upon
completion, teams will give an oral presentation on a topic.
IN THE STEPS OF THOMAS HARDY Robert Sim
The location is Dorset, England. We will walk in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, discovering the
villages, town, byways and landscapes that he describes in his novels. The goals are: to
deepen our understanding of Hardy the novelist and poet, to become acquainted with
the countryside in Dorset, to look at the effect people have had on the environment since
1880, to understand an agricultural culture of the late 19th century and investigate what
has been lost/gained since that time.
ART IN THE MODERN WORLD: SUPERMAN’S WORKSHOP On-campus/field trips
Mark Salwasser
This project will be an immersion into the world of modern art. We will study the life,
times and work of the some of the major figures in modern art—and some of the minor
figures, too! We will begin our survey with Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” take an in-
Projects Block
continued
depth look at Joseph Beuys and his concept of “social sculptures” and choose from some of
the most exciting art makers of our times. We will make art as contemporary artists. Our focus
will be primarily on three dimensional works but all media will be considered. We will spend
approximately 1/3 of our time looking at art and artists and 2/3 of our time creating work.
Field trips could include Mass MoCA, the Decordova, The Rose Art Museum, the ICA, the DIA
Center and Storm King Art Center in New York. The goal of this block is to introduce a new
language of art making and flex our muscles making pieces that can leap tall buildings in a
single bound.
ON THE GROUND WITH HISTORY Cary Hughes
This project involves travel to key historic sites to study and experience what occurred there in
order to gain a deeper insight into the significance of those events. The project may be limited
to New England and eastern New York State or may be able to expand to include sites as far
south as Virginia.
MODEL UN (Offered only if “On the Ground with History” does not go)
Participants will prepare for the Model United Nations Conference at
Bentley University scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Preparation will
include research, writing position papers, and practicing debates. A field trip
to the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston will be included.
ROCK CLIMBING/COMMUNITY SERVICE Mike Wisniewski
This year’s trip will be in West Virginia, where we will camp and climb in the
New River Gorge. West Virginia has world-class rock climbing and worldclass
white water; we will also take a white water rafting trip. On our drive to
West Virginia we may stop in New York (New Paltz) for some climbing at the
Gunks. Community service with the national park service will be an important
component of our expedition. Each student will need his or her own camping
gear, mess kit and other personal items. All rock gear will be provided.
SERVING AND LEARNING IN SANTO DOMINGO: THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Marguy Nelson/Bev Boyer
The group will stay and work in an orphanage, teaching students of all of ages. High Mowing
students will spend their days and evenings engaged with the children: the younger ones during
the morning and the older students later in the day and evening.
Projects Block
continued
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