Seventh-graders couldn’t make the annual October trip to Mount St. Helens in person this year due to COVID-19, so Middle School faculty are virtually recreating the learning experience and joy of the experiential education.
“This is usually a time when students and kids come together in a really special way,” Middle School Science Teacher Tara Verenna said. “So we're trying to create some level of that connection and knowledge, doing the best we can through a virtual experience, so they get to know this amazing volcano in their backyard.”
Yesterday, seventh graders took turns coming to campus in small groups to learn camping preparation skills like shelter building, camp kitchen set-up, and the workings of maps and compasses, while also touching on "leave no trace" camping concepts.
“This year, the students are going to actually be working with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (LNT) online and doing a virtual LNT course, and then they’ll receive a certificate,” Verenna said.
In the coming weeks, students will continue learning about volcanoes: types of volcanoes, major volcanic hazards, the sequence of events at Mount St. Helens, and some of the historical figures and people that were impacted by the volcano, both survivors and people that perished.
Verenna will also include some learning about the mountain area—such as the trails they’d normally explore like the ape caves—through virtual field trips.
The experience seventh graders began this week will also shine a light on our current situation.
"The people that lived through the Mount St. Helens eruption were forever changed by that experience and had a different perspective than before May 18, 1980,” said Verenna. “There are times in history [like the Mount St. Helens eruption and COVID-19] when things are unprecedented and feel extremely hard and almost feel like maybe we won't get through them or life won't return to normal. And, in reality, it will."