Alcuin Freshmen Begin With Northern Exposure

Saylor Madden and Sterling Hahn paddle their kayak during a trip to British Columbia with other Alcuin students. (Courtesy photo)
Saylor Madden and Sterling Hahn paddle their kayak during a trip to British Columbia with other Alcuin students.

Ninth-grade students at Alcuin started the school year with a seven-day sea kayaking adventure and environmental education experience in British Columbia.

The students, who are among Alcuin School’s first ninth grade class, explored several islands in the Discovery Passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland while paddling through about 50 miles of sea.

The experience not only offered the students an opportunity to bond, but also hands-on, real-world learning across the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

“Our trip was an awesome experience because it gave us a chance to get out of our comfort zones and put new skills to use in the wilderness,” said Alcuin student Spencer Saada. “This allowed us to get closer to nature and be completely tuned in to the beauty of our surroundings.”

Alcuin faculty and staff members, who accompanied the students on the trip, emphasized specific skills including questioning, investigating, developing perseverance, interpreting data, and problem solving. The trip also allowed the students to build organization, collaboration and communication skills while moving camp and paddling each day.

“Tomorrow’s leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow’s challenges, and we must adequately prepare our youngsters for the future they will inherit,” said Joanna Powers, Alcuin outdoor and environmental coordinator. “That requires a commitment to providing students with experiential education that helps them become future thought leaders.”

The adventure required rigorous and challenging work within a week of tent camping and outdoor experiences.

The students were responsible for making camp, helping with meal preparation, navigation, and monitoring tide flow and waterway logistics. The students also participated in guided and self-led nature hikes, discovered British Columbia’s inter-tidal life, and explored emerald lagoons and marine phosphorescence.

Although the students spent the majority of the time in the backcountry, their visit to Canada also included a campus tour of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

“I thought the retreat was special because it gave us a chance to bond with our classmates outside of school,” said Alcuin student Toyosi Ayanwola. “We not only got to use what we’ve learned in class and apply it to the outdoors; we also became closer by working and living together as a group.”

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