It was a perfect spring day at Chewonki. One of the few sunny spring days that we’ve had so far this semester, which is one of the reasons that made it so special. No day at Chewonki is typical, but one thing is always true: if it’s not below freezing, we spend time outside. Luckily, today it was definitely above freezing, and it was sunny! This morning, I woke up and left Orchard Cabin with birds singing overhead. I went to my morning chore, ate a delicious breakfast, and then had dish crew. In my dish crew, we pride ourselves on being fast, and as a result, I had a few minutes of free time after I finished putting all of the clean dishes away, leaving me a minute to breathe before going to my three morning classes.
Morning classes are the only classes that we have on Tuesdays. On Tuesday afternoons, I have work program. Students at Chewonki participate in work program on two different afternoons over the course of the week. The first is either on Tuesday or Thursday, and the second is on Friday. Work program assignments can consist of chopping wood on the farm, cleaning spaces and choosing the theme for Friday dress up nights, helping the Kitchen Staff cook our snacks and meals in the kitchen, working with the facilities team, or writing a blog post in admissions!
This particular Tuesday afternoon, I was assigned to work with facilities. It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and our job was to pack up all of the winter gear and get campus ready for spring. Some of my friends who were on the same work program as me went to pick up the sand buckets that we use to cover the ice when it gets slippery and finish setting up the tennis courts. My advisor, Megan, and several other teachers had warned me to bring winter clothes back after spring break, because another snow storm was always possible. However, getting campus ready for warm weather was an encouraging and exciting sign that winter really is over.
My job during this work program was to pick up all of the big sticks on what we call Orchard Field and to use a rake to get rid of all the red maple leaves covering the grass. (Being able to identify different types of trees and their leaves is something you learn to do very quickly here at Chewonki, thanks to our class called Natural History and Ecology of the Maine Coast!)
As I raked leaves while wearing my overalls (basically our school uniform) and a t-shirt, I listened to music and chatted with Carol, a member of the facilities team, and Grace, an Environmental Issues teacher and my cabin parent. Caroline, Katie, Teddy, and myself carried tarps full of leaves off of the grass, dumping them near a little stream that had formed on the other side of the field.
Work program lasted two hours, and when it ended, it was 3:45 and the other half of the school, the students that were on Field Lab during this time, had yet to return. It being such a nice day, my cabinmate, Milkii, and I decided to go for a run together. We ran on Chewonki Neck Road, saying hi to Bob and Ted, the horses on the farm, as we passed by on our way towards the airport. Running on the road is pretty popular among students, and the small municipal airport is a popular destination since it is about 1.5 miles from campus. On our way back, our friends coming back from Field Lab passed us in vans, and we once again said our hellos to Bob and Ted. When we got back and I’d had the chance to take a shower and change my clothes, we still had around a half-hour until dinner. My friends and I sat at a picnic table, with a combination of French books, APUSH notes, and Field Lab journals strewn across it. Many of us were decked out in Chewonki gear and pajama pants as we got settled in for an evening of homework.
The best thing about that Tuesday was that I had spent the morning in classes, and my day was full of raking leaves, getting some exercise in, and doing schoolwork, but it was completed with friends in the sun, and none of it felt like a chore.
Sophie Miller, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Bronxville, NY