The Farm School
Early Dismissal for Thanksgiving Break
(12:00 – No Lunch served)
Wednesday, November 27
December Early Dismissal Days
(12:40 Dismissal – Lunch will be served)
Wednesday, December 4 (K-12)
Tuesday, December 10 (K-8)
The Farm School
Nestled in the scenic hills of central Massachusetts between Athol and Orange lies the Farm School. Earlier this month, our seventh graders attended an overnight field trip there. This is the fifth year we have done so. Over a three-day period, we divide the class in half and each student participates in a two-day, one-night stay.
What do students do? Here’s how the Farm School website describes it: “The work and care of the farm is the mainstay of the program. The farm itself is 130 acres, with about 40 acres of open land and 90 acres of woods…with large vegetable gardens designed to help feed all that come, young orchards, a maple sugaring operation, a dairy with up to 6 cows milking, pigs, beef cows, goats, chickens, oxen, a woodlot that keeps us busy producing firewood and lumber and lovely pastures and fields for the kids and animals to roam. Students are fully integrated into the farm operations, rising early for milking, tending to the garden, fields and forests, and helping to cook meals with the food they have harvested.”
I had the opportunity to spend a beautiful November day at Farm School (as did Mrs. Crowley who attended the first day). When we arrived, students gathered for an opening circle led by program director Reid Bryant. I look forward to Reid’s opening talk each year as he describes the Farm School’s most important rule: “Be kind.” In his words, “Being kind is not the same thing as not being mean.”
Reid then asked the students, “Why do you think your teachers bring you to Farm School?” Some of their responses included:
- To challenge us to try something new – which is an important life skill.
- To learn about and appreciate where our food comes from.
- To try out a job we might not have considered before.
- To have fun.
How would I answer this question? All of the above – and more. Again, I turn to words from the Farm School website: “Students find value in real work, create community that persists when they return to their classrooms, and experience first hand what it means to be stewards of the earth. It’s simple and it’s magical.”
Thank you to our Farm School staff chaperones who are willing to take time away from family to stay overnight with our seventh graders: Kirsten Alper, Charles Deily, Judith Ellis, Max Hunter, Ryan Keser, Vicki LaRiccia, and Greg Porter. A special thank you to Ryan Keser who initiated the trip five years ago and organizes it each year.
Field trips can provide salient memories as part of our school experience. Farm School has become a much anticipated and worthwhile part of our seventh grade program. In a word, it is magical.
P.S. Farm School does run a popular summer program. For information, go to http://www.farmschool.org/camp.php