Friday, April 10, 2015


Hi!  So I'm actually not dead just very busy!!  I don't have a lot of time right now since I have class, but I'm gonna try to list some of the things that have happened to be detailed later!

1.  Lambs!!!  We have 15 lambs now I think!  On Wednesday, I saw two of them born (including a black one)

2.  Me with Lambs!  I'm on livestock crew for my activity, so I've gotten to interact with the lambs a lot.  I milked one of the mama sheep and helped feed the babies and helped ear tag and move the sheep and so on.  The night I saw the lamb born, I milked a sheep right after labor.  I might have had sheep blood all over my hands....

3.  Snow!  Yes, we still have snow... and a lot of it.  A lot was melting, but then on Wednesday, we had something like six inches :(

4.  Go for Green.  Everyone at the school and a bunch of alumni each picked a goal that would benefit their health/academics.  Mine is to meditate from 10-20 minutes a day.  We have a chart where at the end of the week, you color in your box green, yellow, or red.  There's like a million competitions going on with it.

5.  Work.  Always.

6.  Science hike.  I almost fell down a really steep hill I was trying to scale and ripped my jacket really bad.

7.  Overnight!  We doing a overnight to prepare for solo tonight!  So expect an update sometime after it!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Wandering in the Woods

3 days till Spring Break!  I think we're all starting to chaff a little's awkward to start Spring Break on a Thursday.  We had a lot of work last week... history tests, math tests, ESci chapters, English essays ... it just wasn't fun.  Hopefully this week will settle down.  Monday and Tuesday were nice and ordinary ... I think.  I'm having trouble remembering that far back.  Now, Wednesday, Wednesday was a fun day.  In outdoor program in the morning, we did the highlight activity of the season... Find Your Way Back to Campus.  This activity driven around blindfolded then being dropped off with your group a few miles a way from campus.  Then you have to use your map and compass skills to figure out where you are and how to get back to campus (No following roads!  We go through the forests!).  I was with a group of four other... Carmen, Shani (one of my awesome dorm mates!), Livi, and Sara.  We were loaded up with cookies, water, a sleeping bag, and a GPS that couldn't send signals in deep forests and valleys....  It was pretty easy to figure out where we were and to start hiking ... but then we hit a mountain.  Now, we've been doing a lot of exercise here and I'd say I'm in a lot better shape than when I came ... but we couldn't climb this mountain.  So, we went to the pass and lost our bearing.  We were able to find the end of the stream we were at on the map and take another bearing, but it was not nearly as sure.  So we kept walking and walking and eventually decided we didn't really know where we were.  Thus, the wandering in the woods part.  Eventually we found the brook that ran through our campus, but ended up walking the wrong way for something like 20 minutes.  We finally turned around and found the confluence.  Luckily, this was a point I was well acquainted with, so I could lead us back.  In the end, we arrived back on campus about 2 hours late.  We had been in the woods for 4 hours.  But we found our way back!!
Later that day, my dad came to visit.  Luckily, we have a lot of free time Wednesday  afternoon so I was able to spend about 3/4 hours showing him around.  He met all of my animal buds, #304 and Dave especially.  I think he enjoyed it .... but you'd have to ask him.
Thursday passed and then Friday we had the Garden Hill Fund event.  The Garden Hill Fund is available to TMS alumni who are fulfilling TMS goals in their own community.  I've been on the committee trying to decide who gets grants, and it's been hard.  There are so many great proposals.  On Friday, we briefly introduced them to the rest of the school in order to get the community's opinions.  The fun part .. each group had 100 dollars in ones to designate to the projects they chose!  On Sunday night, the committee met to discuss the results .. and we think we know where we're gonna suggest the money should go to.  Now we have to meet with the Alumni Board and agree!
Saturday I did virtually nothing... Saturday night was the TMS Beach Bash!  We dressed in our hippest summer clothes and got ready to party.  Activities include sand castle building out of yogurt cans, ping pong, four square, and limbo!  To end the night, chocolate chip sea salt cookie ice cream sandwiches!
Last thing to report ... some of you may know that I've been taking swing dancing classes once at week... well on Sunday before brunch, we culminated our weeks of lessons with a performance of the Shim Sham!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

TMS Snow Day

Currently sitting in the art studio, with nothing to do.  That's a rare thing at the Mountain School since we're always laden with homework, chores, work, and exhaustion.  That was generally this week... Monday, like all Mondays, was absolutely freezing.  The heavy weather did not carry on, so I was able to continue onto wood crew and outdoor program on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In outdoor program, we had to trespass along someone else's lawn and we spent the whole time freaking out ... and then we realized we were on Mountain School property ... so that was fun.  Thursday came and everyone was exhausted.  Thursday night at check-in, one of my dormmates was talking about how worried she was that she would have to be doing work over the weekend, since her parents were coming to pick her up.  Our dorm aunt, Gwennye, responded, "Well, what if you didn't have school tomorrow?"  And we all laughed and then she replied with "What would it take to convince you?  A signed letter to Alden?" and we all continued laughing until she pulled a letter out of her pocket -- at which we all began screaming.
The screaming lasted for 5 minutes and the letter was ripped in half (thanks Ginger and Fran) before we finally read the letter.  It said, in short, "You guys have all been working really hard and it's really cold so we're going to have a snow day tomorrow!  No work is due, no work period, nothing."  So Friday morning we all woke up naturally at 9ish and had a late brunch.  Then, on a whim, I decided to join the cross country skiing adventure even though I really can't ski.  We to a town called Lyme right across the border to a park called the Greens (which by the way is privately owned.  Mr. Green is just an awesome man who lets people come ski on his land).  Once there, we immediately skiied up to the first "Warming House" or break cabin and immediately regretted my decision to come.  We did go skiing onto the frozen lake and took a group picture while some boys tried to carve TMS into the snow (and only succeeded in carving TM....).  That was exciting.  Next, we embarked.  The path us "intermediate" skiiers were taking was five miles around the lake and was supposed to take one hour.  There was another group who were going on a 9 mile ski ... and spoiler, they only finished 20 minutes after us.  I stayed in the back the entire time with a teacher named Kathy.  She very very kindly waited for me and actually taught me how to go downhill!  So I can actually ski pretty well now (not like in terms of downhill and not fast, but for the most part I can stay upright in XC skiing).  I was so sore afterwards!
Yesterday, I had science hike in the morning, so we hiked out to our spots and recorded data on them.  So just more soreness.  The afternoon of Saturday was dedicate to .... BROOM BALL!  We had our broom ball tournament.... Round Robins in the afternoon and the Bash at night.  My team was the Hemlocks and we were by far the best.  Black Cherry's might think they got something... but they also got beat...  For those of you who don't know, broomball is similar to field hockey, except its played on ice in plain shoes.  The ball is a soccer ball and you play with either a stick with foam wrapped around it or an actual broom.  The goal is pretty simple - get the ball into the goal.  We play in helmets and knee pads because if you don't fall in a game, you're amazing.  Falling is just a thing.  We won 2 of our three games in the round robin ... and all of our games at night!  HEMLOCKS WON!  123 HEMLOCKS!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A bit late...

So I usually post on the weekend (or at least I have twice) but this weekend was crazy hectic.  Saturday was Vershire's annual SnowShoeathon, which is kinda sponsored/corun by the Mountain School.  We'd been organizing and setting up for the previous week.  The day of, an few other kids and I went down to the village to pass out snowshoes.  Then, one of my dormmates, Izzy, and I hiked up the trail (which I'd already hiked down once in order to help carve the trail) behind everyone else to pick up the flags.  It wasn't particularly vigorous since we had to stop and wait for every screaming child (it's hard for them), but it was freezing cold.  We've had the coldest February on record here in Vermont.  I'd like to say I'm getting used to it, and that might be a pretty fair claim.  That isn't to say that I don't long for LA and its sunshine and my sandals but....  The worst days are always Mondays for some reason; that's when we get particularly intolerable wind.  Unfortunately, they have a saying here "There's no such thing as bad weather, there's only bad clothes."
Going back to the weekend, on Sunday I attended a Tibetan Buddhist New Year's ceremony at Vershire's own Worship Center.  After spending a lot of time in Thai and Burmese temples, it definitely wasn't what I imagined.  They ceremony involved a lot of chanting and throwing things into fire and at one point we all threw barley flour at each other.  It was pretty fun and interesting to see the differences between Thai Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.  I'm hoping to return to the center on Sundays for meditation.
Over the week, I had my tree quiz - which my father finds particularly funny (his response was "just point and say 'TREE!' and you're done).  In actuality, it takes a lot of practice but I can identify most trees on campus pretty well at this point.  I also learned how to manage a forest, and we did a workshop with a forester on wood crew in which we looked at what types of trees are best to chop down in terms of profit, environment, animals, and tree health.  We also got to play with a paint gun. In outdoor program, we went orienteering and we're meant to use a compass and a map to find six different points.  My group did pretty well until we got completely lost and spent 20 minutes trudging up the road trying to find point D (which we did find, by the way).  Tomorrow I heard they're dropping us off somewhere random and we have to find our way back to campus.  Yipee.  In science hike, we finally picked our sites - that is to say the place I'll be studying for the rest of the semester.  Mine's down a hill (which you get to slide down) along a brook all the way at the property line.  There looks to be a natural dam right across it.  On the way back, the four of us tried to climb back the slope we slide down.  It's a miracle I made it... there were moments when I was literally hanging off a tree to keep myself from sliding back onto the boy behind me.
I'm still taking care of the rams, even though tomorrow is my last day... I wonder what new adventures await me...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Week of Really Bad Snow

Second week done!  Literally just repeating my dorm mate when I say “Days go by like weeks and weeks go by like days.”  It’s insane how short this last week felt.  Not to say I didn’t do anything … Last week featured more cross-country skiing (in which we had to cross “Siberia,” the snow covered field and I fell a lot), more snowshoeing (we crossed a river and I fell a lot), and more general running around and falling in snow.  My chore got switched to rams, which means I have to walk down the hill each morning and tend to the rams.  What does that mean?  Every morning before 8 (even Sunday mornings when brunch isn’t till 11:30…) I have to make my way down to the ram barn where I clean out their trough, refill their food, clean their water bowl, and sweep out the barn.  You’d be surprised what a ram can do to its water bowl.  I have to go back and take care of them in the afternoon too.  I’ll admit, they’re cute, but the walk down seems like it takes forever.  I’m spoiled here in Derby.
                Thinking of the walk down, today I almost got blown away.  We woke up (or I woke up since I was the only one awake at that time) to the scariest wind sounds that very accurately represented the actual wind.  It’s ferocious.  Luckily, walking downhill it was at my back … which means I got pushed down hill.  Coming back up, it was blowing snow straight into my eyes.  I tried to run up the hill, but I have no stamina so I pretty much just succeeded in tiring myself out.  I’m not leaving central campus today.
                Next week on Saturday, the town of Vershire is conducting its annual “Snowshoeathon.”  As explained to us, The Vershire School was shut down a few years ago.  Not a serious issue since there’s a school a few towns over, but many felt that it undermined the sense of community.  So as a result, they came up with the idea of a Vershire summer camp, free to all of the children in Vershire.  But if it’s free, how do you pay for it?  Snowshoeathon!  Each year, all the residents in Vershire (including the children) snowshoe up from Town Center to …. The Mountain School!  Once here, we feed them all and throw a winter carnival!  This Saturday, a group of us snowshoed down the trail to carve it out of the deep snow.  Considering the snow depths this morning, it’s probably gone by now, but it’s a start.  The first ones walking through deep snow got some issues.  For the festival, we’re planning a play, some snow caves, snowball fights and such, and other winter activities!  The cook, Justin, is a bit freaked out but I think it’s gonna be so much fun!  I love that we get to be a part of the community of Vershire.

                The other exciting thing that happened is I get to participate in the Garden Hill Fund.  TMS has an active alumni association, of which the crowning achievement is the Garden Hill Fund.  Twice a year, TMS receives application from alumni who are continuing the Mountain School aims in their daily lives.  A committee of alumni and students (me!) narrows down the selections and decides who to award money too.  It’s a great program, but it’s really stressful since I want to give money to them all.  If only money really did grow on trees!  Oh wait, our trees have no leaves!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week Number 1

As of yesterday, I had officially been at the Mountain School for a week!  It’s probably not surprising that it feels like forever!  That sounds cheesy, but it really does.  So much has happened in a week – I learned to snowshoe, to cross-country ski (kinda of…), to identify trees (even more of a kind of), and even cut down a tree.  I’ve also scrubbed potatoes, shoveled snow, and cleaned a toilet.  None of those are that astounding, but for me they’re new experiences.  I feel as if The Mountain School is allowing me to fill in gaps in my life… 
                Unfortunately, I still have not seen any of the animals… which sucks.  The Derby girls and I are planning on venturing down to the barns today, but first comes homework.  I think a lot of people forget (including both the students and employees here) that the Mountain School first and foremost is a school.  So ya, most nights are filled with homework.  We have a “silent time” from 7:30 to 9:30 in which the library and classrooms are filled with students studying.  It’s strange adjusting to having time scheduled for you to do homework.  Yes, there are long periods of night where you can work when you want and we have frees, but at home I would start homework at 4 and work till 10.  Here, I’m still in class at 4.  Classes here actually go till 5:55.  Intense right?  Not when you realize that right after lunch we spend two and a half hours in work period.  Work period can involve a science hike, wood crew, outdoor program, an activity, or work.
                My activity is swing dancing.  I didn’t exactly expect to end up swing dancing on a mountain, but it’s actually kind of fun.  There are four of us in the class, two guys and two girls, and a very very experienced teacher.  I have some trouble with the spinning, but otherwise I think I got it.  Other than the fact that I fell flat on my face at one point.  Actually, I’ve done a lot of falling, much to everyone’s amusement.  I’ve officially been deemed “Clumsy Christina.”  I fell at least twenty times in skiing, multiple times trying to walk through the heavy snow, multiple times in broom ball, and of course the wonderful dancing fall.  Oh, what is broom ball you ask?  Only the most awesome sport in the world!  We spent all week trying to clear the snow off of frozen over Derby Pond.  Now, that it’s done, we can play.  Broom ball is kind of like field hockey on ice with a stick made out of a tree branch with a mat or blanket tied around it.  You play with a soccer ball and there’s no need to worry about skating – you play in shoes.  Thus, everyone falls.  A lot.  It’s amazing.  I managed to let my aggressive side come out and run into another player, seriously jarring my head.  So that was the end of my broom ball career for the day.

                I think this ends my post considering I have … homework!  See you next week!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

T Minus 3 Days!!

So I'm leaving in two days... which is crazy.  My address at the Mountain School (which is on my profile also) is

Christina Duval
151 Mountain School Road
Vershire, VT 05079