Back to School…
August always has that feeling of shift, newness, and the unknowns. Shifting seasons, shifting priorities, shifting attention … and the “Back to School” buzz is palpable to most in the US, even if you don’t have children or work in the educational realm. If you were raised in the US, I’m sure you have many memories of your own about how this season has felt for you. No matter how you feel or felt about school, I think that most of us can’t also help but feel a sense of wonder about what awaits this next school year. We, at The Outdoor Academy, are among few schools that get to feel that sense of anticipation, wonderment, and newness twice a year. We are looking forward to Semester 41’s arrival next Saturday, (8/22) when we get to both meet the individual students and see how they come together for the first time as a community.
As I write this, The Outdoor Academy faculty are gathering high up on a mountain bald off the Blue Ridge parkway, beginning the community building process and preparing for the 2015-2016 school year. They have returned from summer break with great stories and grand adventures that have been filled with challenges, inspiration, new life lessons and so much more. Our faculty have returned ready and eager to share their wisdom, forge new friendships, and fully engage in the learning process with the Semester 41 students. Being part of the admissions process, alongside Cary Crawford, our Admissions Counselor, and picking up where Lindsay Martin, our former Admissions Director, left off, has been a most rich and rewarding task for me.
Over the course of the summer, I have come to know so many of the students and families coming this Fall. I am finding that what I saw when I was here ten years earlier is that the aspect I loved most about this work then still holds true today – the OA students and parents are among some of the most determined and committed people I have ever met. Most moving is the intention, the trust in the world, and the desire OA parents have to create life-changing opportunities for their children in spite of the sacrifices they have to make to do so, AND the students who are ready to step outside of their comfort zones, expand their horizons, greet the challenges and joys that life brings, and aspire to become better people.
Our School Director, Roger Herbert, says that the part in our mission statement – “the betterment of human character” – is part of our ethos. It is that ethos, that all involved in Semester 41, our incoming students, our faculty, our Director, and all OA and Eagle’s Nest staff , embrace. Taking a step away from the harried life, from the noise of everyday culture, from cell phones, twitter, sports – typical teenage activities – is not an easy choice.
Semester 41 and all future and past OA students (and parents), YOU are brave warriors, and your experience here and the lessons you learn, and hence the wisdom you leave with, will not only serve you well but our world will be all the better for it.
Stay tuned for the stories and adventures of Semester 41!