Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Off and Running…

Sara Bolen, Purcellville, VA Blue Ridge Middle School
Lots of things are going on at Blue Ridge Middle School; we now have the first two weeks of school under our belt.  There are ides flying around in regards to TTEC, some of which include possibly sharing our kiosk, with our “sister” school, Harmony Middle, participating in family hike day on September 28th, teaching the PE classes the hike safe principles and much more.  We will continue teaching the sixth grade students about the Leave No Trace principles.  On the first and second days of school, the Physical Education classes brought every student (943 of them), to the outdoor classroom.  Here we discussed things that they may do in the outdoor classroom like water testing, observation and journaling.  For the last 2 years we have had a mother goose come and make her nest in the our outdoor classroom.  We are hoping she will continue this spring.  While we had the students out there, we also began the introduction of Leave No Trace, this is a review for our seventh and eighth grade students and new material that our sixth graders will learn in their keyboarding class with Mrs. Allen, former TTEC grad!   We have also created a TTEC committee that includes other teachers who have been through the TTEC program, 2 administrators and other teachers who are interested in this program.  

The bulletin board we created highlights points of interest along
the Trail within an hour or two of our school.
Another idea we are thinking of introducing to the school is the “4 seasons” hiking club.  This is a club that would meet during activity period, but 4 times during the school year we would have them participate in a local hike on the Appalachian Trail.  These hikes would be on a Saturday or Sunday, and parents would hike with the students.  We think that utilizing the trail this way, would eliminate a lot of the issues as far as funding for field trips, taking a large group out and any liability issues, this would also increase the communities awareness of the Appalachian Trail.  The TTEC committee will be meeting in the next week to discuss this possibility.

Harpers Ferry, Where the rivers meet
We have also begun discussions with our high school and their outdoor recreation classes.   I spoke with the recreation teacher and we discussed possibly having his students serve as “hiking guides” on our 4 seasons hikes, teaching our students some outdoor cooking, helping with the hike safe kits, the possibilities are endless.  Our hopes are to get students interested in the outdoors so when they get to the high school, in their junior and senior year, they will choose the outdoor recreation class as their PE elective.

Walking around the school this first week there are many trail themes in the hallways, not only are students learning what teams they are on; Trailblazers, Trekkers, Explorers, Voyagers, Mountaineers and Pathfinders, but they are learning to navigate the hallways; Shenandoah River, Appalachian Trail, Snickers Gap etc.  Many of the bulletin boards and showcases have an outdoor theme to them.  I have included a picture of the showcase I created; it includes many entrance points within an hour drive of our school where students can get on the trail.  Some of these include Weverton Cliffs, Bears Den, Raven Rock, Skyline Drive and Harpers Ferry; we also included other points of interest like the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Maryland Heights and the C & O Canal.  One of our goals this year is to have students become more aware of what is around them and make them realize how easy it is to access all of these places of interest.   

My kids and I at Jefferson Rock
They had so much fun we came back and went up
to Weverton Cliffs! Thanks to Bob Sickley, I felt like a pro!

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald