Semester 43: Back on Campus

Written by: Montana, Ian, Leilani, & Chace

This week in HMI academics, our studies took us from the base of Mount Elbert to America’s revolutionary past. In English class, we continued our reading and discussion of Ceremony, a novel about a Native American veteran struggling to heal from the trauma of war with the help of his native traditions. We watched a video about the history of Native American persecution and displacement, which we then connected back to Ceremony. In History, we studied the Constitution, Bill of Rights, division of powers and checks and balances. We also began work on our research papers, which could focus on any person or event in American History before the Civil War. Meanwhile, our functions math class dove into their study of imaginary and complex numbers. (Turns out there are way more types of numbers then you thought there were. Who knew? Oh, and also, the number line extends in four directions.) The standout event of this week’s science class was our lab, in which we traveled to a “habitat mosaic” near Mount Elbert: a landscape composed of various habitats in different stages of development, all situated next to one another. We analyzed tree age, signs of fire and human impact and species diversity to determine what phase of succession each “tile” in the mosaic was in. Lastly, in P&P class, we discussed the role of art in activism, particularly in environmental activism and painted watercolors of our favorite places on campus using melted snow from the HMI campus.

Since returning from second expedition, our time has been filled primarily with school, meals, sleep, AMX (morning exercise) and other on-campus activities. However, we have also been able to fill our free time with activities off-campus. This past weekend, we left campus twice to explore two very different parts of Colorado. First, on Saturday after a half day of classes and a trip to town, we went to the 5Point film festival being held at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville. The film festival presented short, outdoor focused films. A specific standout film was a film that highlighted a 97 year old man who participates in a yearly race up Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The film was both beautifully told as well as beautifully shot, and in the 6:17 of run-time tells a compelling story of love and dedication centered around the outdoors and staying active. A section of the HMI Gap program attended the film festival as well which provided space for continued connection between the two groups. The next morning, we all slept in, ate brunch, then boarded buses to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs. The hot springs were a great way for everyone to relax and get some time away from campus and Leadville, as the hot springs are located at the base of Mount Princeton, a 14er adjacent to Buena Vista. The combination of lower altitude, warmer weather and hot water helped everyone to relax and bond. After some quality soaking time, we made our way back to HMI where we had some extra time to do homework or go outside before classes started again Monday morning. As a whole, the weekends at HMI are busy, while incorporating rest and relaxation and also building community and getting off-campus in interesting ways. 

Our cabins are some of the best places on campus. It’s where we go to hang out with friends, stoke the fire, curl up under warm covers and have deep meaningful conversations. One cabin is decorated with cute succulents, colorful prayer flags and fairy lights that makes it feel like home. When the lights automatically turn off at 10:30 PM, the fairy lights turn on and we settle down to bed and then start the new day. Most days we run for morning exercise (AMX), but if we aren’t, we usually do Just Dance, yoga, zumba and on every other occasion work out with Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo. Cook crews are busy making breakfast while the rest participate in AMX. After AMX, we wait until breakfast starts and take time to change out of workout clothes or finish up homework from the other day. After eating eggs, bacon, and a blueberry bagel we start chores at 8:30 am. Everyone has a specific chore that they do every morning so that they can focus on getting particularly good at cleaning that one space, instead of learning to clean new spaces all of the time. That’s our morning routine while on campus, and an exciting way to start each day!

As the clouds strolled over Elbert and Massive, we readied ourselves for a week of exciting student led activities! Some students participated in a Film Critique, while others did some multimedia art, combining technology and art to create something new. The aspiring bakers on campus made some chewy chocolate chip cookies and even competed in a Cupcake War! Some of the most notable cupcake creations included sweet maple crunch cupcakes and tangy lemon poppy cupcakes! Some of the bakers were even kind enough to share their delicious creations with the rest of the community. While students were analyzing movies, experimenting with multimedia art, and perfecting their baking skills, other students took to the open air for a nature walk and stick bowling. For those who are unfamiliar with the disciplined sport that is stick bowling, students lined up cans and threw sticks at them. They had a blast. Finally, it was work crew time for the remaining students. We gathered up all of the recycling and drove to the Recycling Plant. After sorting through all of the cardboard and plastic and aluminum, we could not believe our eyes when we found six cardboard cylinders about the length of swords! What ensued was an epic battle of stealth, endurance, and speed. While no one person stood victorious at the end of the fight (we had to leave the Recycling Plant), we all fought bravely and honestly. On our way back to HMI, we stopped at the Fish Hatchery and ooed and aahed at the hundreds of rainbow trout gliding through the water. At the end of the week, I think every student could say that they had a glorious time exploring the arts, the outdoors, and even the Recycling Plant.