The Class of 2019 spent some of their last days in school on a rafting trip in Central Oregon this week. They camped, hiked, played music, and spent quality time with each other to celebrate some of their last moments together as Upper Schoolers at OES.
"They got a full green light from mother nature," Experiential Education Coordinator Tom Handel said. "So there was a lot of swimming, water wars, and plenty of time to chat. It was pretty special."
Beginning in Central Oregon, the group put their rafts in the Deschutes River and began their adventure. After stretches of rafting, swimming, "riding the bull," they battled through rapids and camped under the stars.
"The trip allowed us to spend some time together as a class outside an academic context," Grace W. '19 said. "We got to cherish the end of our time together, as well as getting to enjoy Oregon, which a lot of us are leaving next year. I think it allowed us to bond and connect on a deeper level, and I'm so glad we all got to go and experience it together."
Camp activities included a tradition called "Pass the Rock," when students get the opportunity to share what the OES experience means to them.
"They had some really profound things to say," Handel said. "Everyone's listening while the speaker has the rock."
After another stretch on the river the next day, a hike up "Mt. Aardvark" was next. At the top of this 2200-foot climb, sits a time capsule with messages from past Aardvarks who made it to the top. The seniors left their own messages to future Aardvarks and headed back down to camp where they worked on their class song.
"Two students wrote it and the whole class practiced the song together that night," Handel said "It was truly unique. I've never seen a class do anything like that."
The trip concludes a journey through school and the beginning of their next phase in life.
"I want to reiterate my appreciation and heartfelt thanks to this class," Handel said. "This particular trip was one of the best I've ever had because of how gracious the students were. They were so thankful."