Verde Valley School - Review #7
About the Author:
|College Enrolled||Ashford University|
|Home Town, State||Tenants Harbor, ME|
|Years Attended Boarding School||2|
|Activities During Boarding School||I traveled to Mexico on my first field trip and participated in a home stay. This was my first time out of the country. It was the first time I experienced living with a family with only a spigot for running water. It was the first time I observed the burning of trash and a town with no organized dump. There were an array of cultural awareness I left with about my own country and the state of Sonora in Mexico we stayed in. I traveled to Belize on my second field trip and observed upon flying into the country a racial tension had been lifted having left the US and arrived in Belize. I observed through the eyes of shamans and medicine men and youth the loss of interest in these traditions and this phenomenon of being tri-lingual (English, Spanish, Native dialect) but not proficient in any language as well as a transient youth culture that was back and forth from LA. I will never forget just a few miles from the Guatemalan border a woman took us to a neighborhood street and told us just one year ago it was custom that all the neighborhoods would come out in the evening and cook on the streets and socialize . There was no one out on the street that night. She said TV had come to the town and within a year this tradition had died. I will never forget that. I participated in Theater. I did a lot of hiking and learned to sleep out under the stars. I worked in the horse stables for project period and read great feminist books for another. I participated in an informal African American literature class that met once a week at the history teachers house which was the hobbit earth house on campus and we all shared a meal and spent hours talking about the book we were reading. There were so many incredible learning experiences had at VVS...to many to list!|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The single most unique aspect of this school is the unconditional love that is generated on this campus and lives on in the alumni. Twenty two years after graduating I can still say I have a second family. The students and teachers that lived on campus while I attended VVS are still a vital part of my life personally, professionally and on Facebook! I believe this is so because of the unique learning platform provided at VVS from the field trip program to project period, small academic classes, VVS traditions like fire run and life on campus in the red rocks there is a bond that is life long. This is truly a very special school that every student becomes a part of when they attend no matter the length of their stay. My son is currently attending VVS. He is in his third year there. Last year my son had a profound AHaaaa moment when he finally connected and began to understand the depths of my friendships and the web of friendships with VVS alums that are a part of my life that he too has experienced great love and community from in his life previous to VVS. It was a full circle moment. I speak for most of the alums I know; the Verde Valley School played a pivotal part informing who I am and the way in which I see and move through the world even in the NOW.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me at boarding school was I received an education that went far beyond academics; it taught me how to love unconditionally, be objective and think critically not just inside the classroom but in relationships, the land taught me so much about walking through my fears literally (I am afraid of snakes) and how to take in the beauty of a big sky, night birds and silence and about being wild. I learned about vegetarianism and listened to many languages spoken on campus and learned about their cultures just by living with one another and traveling with the school, I learned so much about class, privilege my own and others and I learned how to get through school with the help of a community.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Nothing. Something about VVS that just takes you in so it doesn't matter what you did or didn't do.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The community as a whole and the love that is still alive and supportive twenty two years later.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
If you are visiting do a few things on the VVS Bucket list! Watch a Pato game if there is one! Sit in the chapel and look out at Cathedral Rock and think about if this feels like the right fit.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I loved the small classes and I loved that we read real books and hardly ever had a text book. I loved the outdoor classrooms and the experiential education. I loved that what I was learning in one class was bridged with what I was learning in my other classes. The academics are rigorous particularly now that it is an IB school (My son is attending VVS now and is in his junior year) but they are alive and creative and you have a real relationship with your teachers. For instance my son really just had a hard time with his math teacher because he held him to an expectation that was higher than his own and this teacher happen to be one of the Mountain Bike leaders so he had an opportunity to develop a loving relationship with him there because he loved to ride and was interested in bettering himself there which strengthened and balanced their relationship. I personally learned to ask for help and receive help at the Verde Valley School which in college is a handy skill to have.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I had played Varsity Field Hockey. When I went to school at VVS the athletics program was relaxed. It was good for me. I enjoyed the dance classes that I took and the hiking I did. The facilities are not state of the art but they are special in that VVS way. It taught me something else about myself and my body. I know my son has delved into Mountain Biking and loved it for two years. There is a strong mountain biking community. He also did cross country for the first time and is doing trail running this year to condition himself for the soccer season. He is now in love with soccer and has pushed himself to grow in the last year and is now enjoying this season tremendously. There is a strong soccer team at VVS now.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
At the time I went to school we were working with professionals from LA who I am still in touch with. We did some great productions and I learned a bit about collaborative screen writing. I know the theater program at VVS is a vital part of it's IB curriculum and the entire community gets involved in productions. I also believe there is a good musical program at this time as well. In the IB program arts, music and theater are an integral part of this academic program.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Present day there are many opportunities for volunteering. VVS also helps you log those experiences for when it is time to apply for college. I know my son on the weekends walked dogs at the Humane Society and packs backpacks for the elementary school kids in town and does volunteer work for the Malawi project as well. There may be others right now that I am not aware of. The thing about VVS is that if you wanted to do volunteer work that is not available the staff would support you in creating a trip or project and help you to execute it.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life was beautiful and full of tears, drama and fun. I just remember laughing a lot and hanging out in dorm rooms with friends. Dorm parents were awesome and everyone was family. We tend to gravitate to those that resonate with us but at VVS everyone is family.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Present day the food is as farm to table as it can be and they serve healthy, beautiful meals. My son has never once complained. When I have eaten there I am amazed at how alive it feels for the mass of people they are cooking for. There are always vegetarian options and meat is free range or organic I believe. The dining hall is pretty relaxed and as far as every time I have visited my son there is no assigned seating.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
You cannot really walk to town. There are trips into town on the weekend and activities which can be super fun including backpacking and dancing trips!
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
That it is relaxed and just as when I was a student my son affirms everyone is friends. You may not hang out all the time but everyone is a part of the community and celebrated.
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