Semester XII Orients Themselves to Idaho Life

Alzar School

With just a few days of Idaho living under their belts, Semester XII left last Thursday for their Orientation Weekend in a winter wonderland. Each January, spring semester Alzar students spend a long weekend hiking through the snow, skiing at local resorts, and thinking critically about what kind of culture they want for their semester. After discussing our shared values, goals and norms, a small group of representatives convened to craft a statement of our desired culture: a Community Contract.

In the Community Contract, our students stated unequivocally that they valued a kind and supportive community that encourages its members to leave their comfort zones. The most important stipulation? According to Maggie, members of Semester XII must make everything fun. Or, in the words of the contract, “have a hoot and a half”

Back in the Idaho wilderness, our students learn not only to survive sub-zero conditions, but thrive. Hot chocolate flowed from the backpacking stoves, and Meredith learned that the best way to keep warm is to lots of layers: “I was wearing 5 layers of pants, lots of socks, two gloves… but it was definitely worth it.” These lessons will carry our students through the temperate rainforests of Patagonia and the high desert of eastern Oregon. Perhaps more vital, though, is the chance to see the benefits of living simply in a community setting. Meredith reflected on a swath of new experiences: “getting into the tent, hiking; I’d never skied before. We were all experiencing life rather than learning in a classroom: out doing our own things, learning from each other, actually living.”