April 19, 2018

Get Out of Town!

3rd graders at snowy Cal-Wood recently
Last Thursday evening, our Great Room at the South Campus was filled with laughter and excitement as our 2ndgrade class pitched tents and spent the night at school.  Their teacher Bryn Pennington and a handful of gallant parent volunteers got a little sleep as they watched over their flock by night.

The week before, our 3rdgraders arrived at school weighed down by backpacks, hiking boots, and water bottles, prepared to spend a couple of days in the great outdoors. They spent the night up at Cal-Wood Education Centerabove Jamestown. Each year, two of our classes make the trek into the foothills north of Boulder to participate in a wide variety of outdoor learning opportunities.

3rdgrade teacher Krysten Fort-Catanese shared, “It was an awesome bonding experience. (The third graders) had two very special days in the outdoors. They challenged themselves, saw some beautiful vistas, played fun games, explored rock science, and had a great time around the campfire at night.”Krysten, who is a renowned expert in social and emotional learning, knows so well the importance of getting children out of the classroom environment and seeing a new side of her students.

These excursions are just part of Friends School’s extensive age-appropriate trips program that takes our students and teachers both close to and far from home.

The trips program starts in 2ndgrade with the overnight experience at school, progresses to the Cal-Wood trips in 3rdand 4thgrades, and proceeds to get longer and more adventurous as children get older.

Each year, our 5thgrade class embarks on a five-day, four-night, trip to the Four Corners region of Colorado.  They have a week-long educational experience at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Centerwhich is dedicated to understanding, teaching, and helping to preserve the rich history of the ancestral Pueblo people (the Anasazi) of the American Southwest. There, they spend three
Previous 5th graders at Mesa Verde
full days 
learning the basics of Pueblo Indian history, excavating at a site that represents different time periods, and participating in a variety of "ancient lifestyle" activities at Crow Canyon’s pithouse and pueblo learning centers. Their program wraps up with a day-long tour of Mesa Verde National Park, where our students explore the spectacular cliff dwellings and other archaeological sites for which the park is famous.
Our middle school students leave for a week in May on their spring trip to Moab, Utah, where they will visit Arches National Park and spend a day river rafting with Adrift Adventures. Last year, they went to the Black Hills of South Dakota for five days and four nights. And each fall, they go on a two-night camping trip. During the spring trips, students combine active opportunities that take advantage of the local terrain with educational offerings that highlight the natural and cultural history of the area. They also take time to reflect on their middle school years and consider the leadership roles they will play as 7thand 8thgraders next fall.

Our middle school team is busy planning our culminating 8thgrade trip for next spring.  We don’t know exactly where they will be going yet, but we know a plane trip will be involved!  It’s an exciting time in the development of our middle school program.

There is a whole body of research that supports the huge advantages for students who take trips as part of their school experience.

2nd graders camping in the Great Room last week
A recent study by the U.S. Travel Association, found that, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, children who take educational trips have better grades, higher graduation rates from high school and college, and greater income. In fact, 89 percent said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because the trips
made them more engaged, intellectually curious and interested in and out of school.

On our Friends trips program, students are able to access tools and environments that are not available at school. Our communities are rich learning laboratories. Field trips make it possible to take students to see an underwater ecosystem at an aquarium, participate in citizen science in a river, use high powered microscopes, see and touch historical artifacts in person and present on a public stage among hundreds of other things. Each experience solidifies learning and supports important academic concepts. 
Students who go on field trips become more empathetic and tolerant. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that students that participate in trips show increased empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills. Studying off campus gives students a chance to think about a topic or theme from a different perspective.

Helen Keller famously said, “Life is either an adventure or nothing.”All of us at Friends are very excited for our students and their adventures.  We love presenting them with opportunities to bond as a class, to give them lessons they might not learn back at school, and to recognize their desire and need to spread their wings as they grow. 
Bon voyage to all our field trippers!

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