By Ashley Lodato
If the school hallways felt a little empty last week, it’s because so many students were enjoying the alfresco classroom: the great outdoors. Independent Learning Center students, seventh-graders and ninth-graders all spent a day, or two, or three (respectively) at the Northwest Outward Bound School in Mazama, rock climbing, rappelling, hiking and camping. The six days of Outward Bound programs that the roughly 120 students got to experience was made possible by a No Child Left Inside grant, through funds that were dedicated by the Washington state Legislature to ensure that students get quality opportunities to experience the natural world. Thank you, Washington state, and thank you tax payers! (See story, page A6.)
Last Wednesday, fifth-graders traveled over the pass to the North Cascades Institute on Diablo Lake to participate in Mountain School, which is an environmental education program for youth that focuses on science and the natural and cultural history of the North Cascades. Students hiked and explored mountain ecosystems and participated in experiential activities that linked science, math, art, social studies, and conservation.
They also did typical 10-year-old things like skipping rocks on the lake, losing teeth, and hiding behind trees to jump out and scare each other.
Meanwhile, sixth-graders enjoyed what has been a 20-year tradition at Methow Valley Elementary School — the annual sixth-grade campout. The nearly 60 students, their teachers and their chaperones set up camp at Falls Creek Campground before traveling to Buck Lake for canoeing, archery, field sketching and other activities. The second day was spent hiking the Maple Pass loop, where a fresh dusting of snow stood in stark contrast to the fall colors. On the third day, students participated in reflective writing sessions, environmental education and a service project before dismantling their camp and heading back to school.
It wasn’t only kids doing service projects, either. If you were in Winthrop on Monday morning you may have noticed a parade of adults carrying boxes down Main Street. It was Methow at Home volunteers, helping Trail’s End Bookstore move to its new location in the former White Buck Trading Company retail space. I remember helping the bookstore move from what is now Copper Glance down to 231 Riverside Ave. many years ago when it outgrew that building. It’s reassuring to see that Trail’s End once again requires additional space, proving that small towns with avid readers can keep an independent bookstore alive.