Semester 46: Ski Week, Poetry, and Cabin Showdown Throwdown

Written by: Tess, Rowan, Lindsey, & Harry

Three days this past week, Semester 46 eagerly woke up early, dressed in ski attire, and traveled to Ski Cooper to learn how to telemark ski. The excitement was infectious on the bus rides: the apprentices played music and the students chatted about conditions, ski technique, and hopes for the second expedition. On the mountain, students were split into small groups and were taught how to adjust bindings, put boots in ski mode, fall, and walk uphill on skis. Once up the lift, the groups worked on a variety of skills including the adventure wedge, stopping, controlled skiing, alpine turns, and tele turns. By the end of the first day, everyone was having so much fun that no one wanted to go back to campus. Sunday, everyone was disappointed when the trip to Ski Cooper was cancelled due to cold conditions. Instead, Semester 46 hit the slopes on the cross country ski course equipped with skins (nylon sticker-like devices that allow skiers to walk uphill), and went for their first ski tour. Despite the challenge of ski touring and aching quads, everyone was smiling and looking forward to trying out backcountry skiing. Semester 46 went back to Ski Cooper on Tuesday and Thursday to continue practicing their skills. Tuesday was a bluebird day, and it felt like spring skiing. Students were thrilled to wake up Thursday morning with a few inches of fresh powder on the ground. Semester 46 spent the last day fine-tuning their tele and backcountry ski maneuvers, and a few brave souls ventured into the glades for some tree skiing.

For the past three weeks in English class, the students have been reading poems by a wide variety of poets. Instead of focusing on finding the “hidden meaning” within the poems, they’ve focused on how each poem makes the reader feel, and how literary devices (diction, syntax, repetition, etc.) contribute to and enhance that feeling. Jacob has redefined the way we think about poetry, and has challenged us to write many poems as well. One of these poems was an assignment to mimic a sonnet by the poet Terrance Hayes. There were some requirements for this poem, like referencing one sixties or seventies singer, and starting and ending the poem with the same word. In class, students printed out copies of all of their sonnets (keeping them anonymous), as well as an original Terrance Hayes sonnet that they hadn’t read before, which also mimicked the requirements. The class goal was to read all of them and then vote which one they thought was the real Terrance Hayes product. The poems were well written, and it ended up being very difficult to figure out which one was the authentic poem. This assignment is just one way teachers at HMI have creatively challenged the students to push themselves and their writing abilities.

On Friday (the final day of ski week), all students met for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. to find out their winter expedition groups! After breakfast, they met with these groups and did introductions as well as went on a backcountry ski. Prior to the ski, students learned from their Instructor Team (I-Team) about the beacons they were going to use out in the backcountry and also learned more about layering, skins, and how to keep their toes warm in the cold weather! All very important things for winter expedition. After skiing, all students met in Who’s Hall for lunch and then in Stuen for a community meeting. They had about an hour of free time before stations began after the meeting. Semester 46 went  through five different stations with their expedition groups and learned all the important and necessary things about winter expedition from the awesome apprentices this semester. The first station taught them about how to build a kitchen in the snow, the second station taught students how to set up their snow tents, the third was getting Neos, which is an insulated bootie system to keep warm. The fourth station taught the students how they were going to go to the bathroom in the snowy backcountry. This station also taught them how to pack their sleds using the acronym ACB’S just like they did when packing their packs. Finally, the students went into the Red Room to create insulation for their bowls and Nalgenes so that their water and food won’t freeze. After a long day of information, the students had a little more free time to call home, get some work done, or just hangout. It was an exciting day and all the students are getting super pumped to leave for the backcountry on Tuesday! 

On Sunday, Semester 46 spent the afternoon enjoying some free time, snacking on some yummy food, and getting all of our aggression out by chopping wood with the apprentice Sam. Then they all gathered in Who’s Hall for a delicious dinner of shepherd’s pie served by an amazing cook crew and got ready for the Cabin Throwdown Showdown led by Hayden. The students had no clue what was in store. The only information we were given was that we had to come dressed in a theme and that we should mentally and physically prepare ourselves for a wild competition. They met up in Who’s at 7:30 PM and began their first round of competitions. They were graded on five different criteria for five different rounds—pride, strength, knowledge, logic, and bravery—and were given points on a scale of 100. They were also graded based on five Habits of Mind—Team Spirit, Flair, Expedition Behavior, Timeliness/Listening, and Sportshumanship. 

The first test was to come up with a cabin theme song that represented their energy as a collective, and the songs, skits, and backflips got pretty crazy! The second test was to flip a sleeping mat over with eight kids from each cabin on top without touching the ground, and there were two cabins at a time that went, so it was a hectic competition with lots of falling and cheering. The third test was to see how well they knew each other. Each cabin would send one representative away and be asked a question about that member and the member would give an answer as well as the cabin. If the cabin gave the same answer as the representative, the cabin would get 25 points, and there were five reps sent for each cabin. The fourth test was a little more complicated. There were more rounds, but at the end, they counted up the points and Cabin Two came out victorious! They got to write their names on the Cabin Throwdown Showdown Trophy, and now have epic bragging rights. All in all, it was a super fun Saturday night, and now they are looking ahead to Tuesday when they leave for winter expedition.