End of Semester XV – The places, the memories, the people
As 2019 comes to a close and an amazing semester concludes at Alzar School, it is time to reflect upon the places, memories and people who have touched the lives of students, staff and the school.
Semester XV made history at Alzar School, exploring and experiencing new places and timeframes. They were the first cohort to start their semester in Idaho and end it in Chile. Eliminating the logistics of Fall and Spring breaks, the semester is streamlined, less complicated for families and more environmentally sustainable. For the first time, Fall 2019 students embarked on the Main Salmon River during their Idaho river expedition. This infamous stretch of whitewater made way for new, place-based history and culturally relevant lessons while on expedition and hopefully ignited passions for wild and scenic rivers landscapes. Finally, this group of students was the first, of what we hope will be many, to step foot on Alzar School’s new base of operations in Chile, Base Patagonia.
At the end of every semester, students are asked, “What was your favorite part of the semester?” Answers vary, but several commonalities are weaved throughout the responses. The 6-weeks students spend in Chile are always some of the most memorable times. For most, this period marks the longest time they have been immersed in a culture outside of the US. Furthermore, Chile offers opportunities for students to expand upon their communal living and social skills as they explore, cook and live with a group of peers. Expeditions highlight memorable moments of growth and learning at Alzar School. Years after, we hear alumni recount expeditions as if they happened yesterday. In part, these outdoor experiences and the leadership lessons learned while on them are what make Alzar School such a powerful and transformative semester.
When recently asked, ‘What is the best thing about Alzar School?” an alumnus on our Alumni Advisory Committee replied unequivocally, “The PEOPLE!” The friendships made at Alzar School are deep and enduring. Sharing challenging experiences, whether in math class or portaging a rapid, sparks a connection of camaraderie and fellowship rarely found. Beyond their semester, alumni stay in close connection with each other — organizing mini-reunions, chatting via group text or social media and meeting other Alzar School alums in college or through our Alumni Network. In addition, Alzar School students have the chance to develop strong mentor relationships with their teachers. Getting to know educators outside of the classroom, on expedition and while traveling to Chile, students form bonds with adults that empower them to seek guidance or help when needed or obtain a reference that can speak to the true nature of their character. Finally, Alzar School simply would not exist without the support of the families and individuals who contribute their time, treasure and talent. Thank you all for helping to build leaders who make a positive impact on the world.
2019 has been full of new and exciting places, lasting memories and meaningful relationships for Alzar School and Semester XV. Thank you for following the adventure and Happy New Year. We hope 2020 is just as bright!