The sophomore and junior classes collectively comprise a majority (192) of our population, so a normal class day during PSATs would be fruitless; (notice that we don't have courses that are exclusively for seniors, and few limited to freshmen.) To capitalize on this "proble-tunity," we have seniors working on college apps and essays while ninth graders take a hike.
Proctor is a relatively egalitarian school at which students are rarely together specifically by class. So the traditional ninth graders' hike to the school's historic cabin--situated about a mile up the south slope of Ragged Mountain--is an opportunity for the class to witness itself....to bond.
Fourteen-year-olds are a distinct type. Never will gender-specific behavior be more pronounced than now. They are squirrelly, impulsive, serene, funny, fun-loving, and relatively timid. They'll lose the timidity next summer, when they return with social cred. You will notice--above and below--that they can be perfectly happy with single-sex socialization.....for now.
Another benefit of this exercise is to introduce these new kids to the stunning asset that is Proctor's extensive woodland. Both at our start at 8:30 this morning and at the Cabin, Assistant Head Anne Swayze invited students to consider using this treasure--to sign out for camping overnights or a Saturday night at the Cabin. And....we're off!
Another thing about this age group: they are very fast getting to a destination. I gave myself a head start to get some photos of their approach, but 68 of them marched past in a flash. I heard several conversations retelling stories from last month's Orientation hikes in the White Mountains!
If these images appear blurred, remember what I said about foot speed. The trek takes us northward, over moderately gentle rises through mixed hard-and-soft woods, passing just east of Mud Pond, descending to Phelps Brook, and up a short, steep hill to our destination. I wonder how Ro Burbank and his "Cabin Club" chose this lovely site over all others in 1942? An adjacent, dependable, clean-flowing stream certainly was a factor. Depending on one's age and fitness, we arrived at the Cabin in about 45 minutes. Pete Southwouth had a fire burning in the ring, and enough cocoa and cookies for everyone.
It's a mild morning--particularly after a fast hike--but the scent of the fire and comfort of some sugary treats bring on a sense of relaxation.
The Cabin has a sleeping loft, accessible by ladder. A dozen kids explored at the same time.
OMG!!! A mouse!
This is what ninth grade boys look like.
This is what ninth grade girls look like.
Off we go!
Cocoa and cookies and wood smoke.
A dog with the smoothest fur....
A ladder up to the sleeping loft in the Cabin.
We pose for a group photo.
Double click on any image, and you can download hi-res images from Flickr, like this one, of the entire group, posed.