Mt. Hood Climb Observance Day Launches Season of Service

On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, the whole OES community gathered at the Belltower for our annual Mt. Hood Climb Observance Day. This event honors the seven students and two faculty members who lost their lives on Mt. Hood in 1986 during a sophomore trip.

Interim Upper School Chaplain VJ Sathyaraj welcomed everyone to the event. As he read aloud the names of those we remember, chimes rang out from students playing handbells. MS Chaplain Mel Robinson led a prayer. After remarks from Head of School Mo Copeland, members of the Upper School choir sang a song in Ukrainian about peace.

Upper School students who are volunteering at Blanchet House spoke about how their mindset about the experience changed from viewing it as a requirement to viewing it as a relationship after they understood the deep connection they could make to the community there.

In closing, the Rt. Reverend Diana Akiyama, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, led everyone in prayer and encouraged our community to move forward in hope.

This year, OES is changing from one day of service connected to Mt. Hood Climb Observance Day to a year-round commitment to service, with a special focus on ending the year in commitment to others. As All-School Community Engagement Coordinator Kristen Haferbecker said, “On this Mount Hood Climb Observance Day we have an opportunity to recommit to our power for good—not as something that happens on one day, but as something that happens through ongoing actions rooted in justice and love. Instead of a single day of service, we are calling our OES community to a season of commitment that asks us to reflect on, commit to, and press toward actions of love, compassion, and justice ongoing.”

Kristen shared more about how the Season of Commitment launched on May 11:

"Around campus on Wednesday, students began, were in the middle of, or slowed down to reflect on some of their own caring actions toward our broader community. For example, pre-K students spent time in Fariss Garden digging up weeds. As a place they love to play, they wanted to give back to the garden and to other students by giving the space some loving care. 

A group of Kindergarten students began planning storage solutions for the playground equipment, in order to help the whole community better care for those materials. Primary students planted 30 native plants in the riparian forest along Vermont Road which they have been learning in and caring for throughout the entire school year. In order to promote all-school belonging, first-graders conducted interviews and made cards of appreciation and connection for people on campus whom they may not yet know well. Along with questions about their roles at OES, the students asked questions to get to know them as individuals.

Third-graders planted a serviceberry tree, camas, and native plants as a next step in their year-long project to honor and recognize the lifeways of Indigenous communities who were the first stewards of the land on which our school sits. The entire Middle School took time to lovingly decorate 300 lunch sacks with messages of hope and care. Middle School families will be invited to sign up to fill these lunch sacks to be delivered to Blanchet House to help feed community members in need of a meal. 

Next week, Upper School students will deliver 20 pots–one for each classroom in the Lower School. The pots were hand-painted by US Ceramics students and planted by the US Greenhouse Activity. These pots are to act as a representation of our community-wide actions: we can all be planters of seeds, and, through time and care and attention, with love and commitment, together we can grow something beautiful."

We look forward to sharing more with you as we spotlight our Season of Commitment in the Aardvark in the coming weeks.