Program Highlight: Experiential Week | Natural Learning | Midland School

Program Highlight: Experiential Week

Midland's 2022 Experiential Week

Springtime at Midland means… Experiential Week! This week is both a tradition and a rite of passage involving grade-level trips and activities that deepen the bonds within each class and provide an opportunity for place-based experiential learning that is connected to our core competencies. Let’s take a look at Midlanders’ adventures this year:

students crossing a creek during experiential learning weekNinth Graders camped and hiked in the Los Padres National Forest, exploring the natural and cultural history of the area surrounding Midland’s 10-acre inholding along the Manzana Creek. They were divided into two groups — venturing over the San Rafael Mountain Range either from Midland or back to Midland at the outset or conclusion of the trip, including one more trip up or down Grass Mountain.

Tenth graders had the core campus to themselves, and spent the week repurposing an area on the farm to be a gathering space that is more welcoming, beautiful and accessible for generations of Midlanders to come. They refurbished the existing site by pulling weeds, adding chicken wire and topping it with shale to keep the weeds and maintenance down. They also used woodworking tools to revamp the tables and benches in the pizza oven area and began constructing a pergola to provide shade and shelter. Native plants were then added to the surrounding area with an irrigation system and fire pit.

Eleventh graders volunteered to build homes for low-income families through Self-Help Enterprises (SHE) in Woodlake, CA, located northeast of Visalia. Alongside the families that will live in the homes, students assisted in whatever needed to be done, from preparing the sites to helping with framing and finishing work. Students and faculty camped at Lake Kaweah Horse Creek Campgrounds and did volunteer work there in exchange for camping fees (litter control, weed abatement and trail maintenance). On their way to Woodlake, they visited the Cesar Chavez National Monument to get a perspective of the San Joaquin Central Valley’s rich history regarding agriculture, labor and activism.

Twelfth-graders dedicated their last Experiential Week to projects that will leave small but significant parts of Midland better than they found it. They spent the bulk of their time at the Reservoir (the Res) rebuilding eroding trails to and around the water, refinished the well-weathered picnic tables and benches and completely refurbished the barbeque. Long ago, the whole school used to have an occasional lunch or dinner at the Res. The work the seniors did may make it possible to revive this tradition. They also worked on their senior gift — a well-built swing destined to hang in Middle Yard and become a favorite spot for all. Of course, no Experiential Week would be complete without a bit of camping and fun. The seniors celebrated the week by spending one overnight near Refugio Beach and had some time to play in the water.

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