Classes in the Field – Fall 2015
As the rain pounded the ground the teaching staff scurried about campus preparing food and gear for our highly coveted Classes in the Field. Students were out on a five-day trek that was to lead directly into a week of camping in the Smoky Mountain National Park in a special area named Cataloochee. As to be expected, Mother Nature threw us some curve balls but it was nothing Semester 41 could not handle. Students spent the majority of their trek in the pouring rain with not a star in sight. After coming back to campus, wringing out, warming up, and spending some time swapping trek stories (that only got better every time they were told) we all headed back out into the woods. This time, Mother Nature was extremely kind to us and gave us some of the best fall weather we have seen yet this season.
We wound ourselves deep into the woods, finally settling on a beautiful campsite along a creek. As we pulled into camp we saw some older buildings and began to learn about who had come before us on this land. The Cataloochee area is rich with Appalachian history. Throughout the next week students worked as a community to live simply all the while learning about the people of Cataloochee through song, craft, literature, and discussion.
The students took the OA principle of self-reliance during Day 2 to the letter. We had spent the first half of the day exploring the area. Students toured the Hannah cabin where they had the opportunity to build their own miniature log cabin and have it stand the test of the elements. Later we became archaeologists and tried to map out an area where a town by the name of Ola was by using artifacts and other remains. After lunch two of our talented students sang some hymns in one of the older churches bringing us right back to the mid 1800s. After we fueled our bodies and souls with song we continued into the woods. This is where things got exciting! Semester 41 chose to find their own way back to camp during our hiking tour of the Cataloochee valley. Student leaders consulted with each other, compass and map in hand, and led the entire semester through the rhododendrons, down the rocky slopes, and leapt over water right to camp just as the sun was setting. It was a perfect day with an amazing group of individuals. I couldn’t have imagined a better Classes in the Field.
Racheal Duffy, Math Teacher