Lower Adolescent Key Experiences 2019

6B Farm Trip

The farm trip just returned home last week and will have a full report in next month’s newsletter! As Dexter said in his 6B update email this week, “If you don't have a good time, at least you had a time." These are the words of a parent that were shared by one of our students during our community meeting at the farm. It's as if those words buoyed our students through the trying circumstances! They all survived the cold, wet and rough elements of the farm! We are happy that we were able to answer Maria Montessori's call for us to tap into the courage that "lies dormant in the soul of each child."

7/8 Odyssey North

written by Kayla Kronfeld, LA Social Studies guide and co-trip lead

With the school year well on its way, it is so wonderful to see the connections that students are making to their time on the Odyssey! Though an annual experience for the guides (some of us have been on 12!), the students get just a few times to experience the magic of the Odyssey.

When Great River does the Odyssey, we go all in (minus the boats, though we do attempt at least one boat tour for our two-year loop!). We do the Odyssey to create a sense of community--the students learn to support their fellows and thus they feel supported individually, too. It is a time where an adolescent ends the journey of “I cannot, I am not” to “I can and I am”. They learn how to set-up tents and feed fires, they learn how to persevere during rain storms and heat, they learn how to handle being with strangers who become fast friends, and they learn that if they work together, the world truly can be a wonderful place.

The curriculum for this year’s Odyssey set the tone for the school year: Economic Inequality (visiting various cities and experiences), Environmental Concerns (Listening Point and the Duluth Aquarium), and Human Rights (Clayton Jackson McGee Memorial (a memorial to three black men who were falsley accused of rape and thus tortured and murdered in the streets of Duluth) and the Hibbing Mine (where the first legal grounds were set against workplace sexual harrassment). 

These are big things for any human to understand, but it is important for folks to know what happens in the world around them. To keep them from these happenings would be to turn a blind eye to the injustices that happen in our cities and schools. Introducing students to materials and supports does, indeed, allow them to make the world a better place. And with a bit of food and maybe one shower, we do just that on the GRS Odyssey!

9th Grade Farm Trip

Written by Danny Ross, 9th grade SpEd guide and co-trip lead

Following the vision of Montessori's "Erdkinder" (earth-child), 9th-grade students stayed at Great River's partner farm, Buttermilk Falls Farm, in Osceola, WI during the second week of school. Students stretched their physical and intellectual capacities learning various trades, conducting academic seminars on biodynamic agriculture and the psychological principle of "flow," and being general stewards to the land and farm facilities. From building birdhouses and picnic tables, making homemade soap, preserving late summer crops, and rebuilding fences, students gained a variety of practical experiences on this trip and will continue to grow their sense of economic independence as they prepare to sell their goods at the upcoming Harvest Festival.