By Diane Rogers and Andrew Johnston
During the week of May 7, all Grade 9 students were taken out of the regular classroom to participate in an integrated set of experiences that pulled together themes from different parts of their academic program this year. The week was a huge success thanks to the involvement of both students and staff!
Half the class planned, and packed for, a 3 day trip in the beautiful Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park (a short drive from the LCS campus). With summer-like weather conditions and very little leaf cover, because of a late end to the southern Ontario winter, the park provided a unique setting for students to explore the landscape and interact with each other. The purpose of the trip was to provide an authentic and challenging experience for students to apply the practical Outdoor Education skills learned throughout the course of the year in class. As one student commented, “for me, the canoe trip allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and try something that I hadn’t done before. It also allowed me to get away from the busy aspects of school life and helped me to appreciate the beautiful environment. For my group specifically, the purpose of this trip was to get experience helping each other out and to know more about each other as a result of our experience. The trip was awesome!”
On day one, students canoed and portaged from Coon Lake through to Little Turtle Lake, Adams Lake, Sawmill Lake and the group camped on Shark Lake on the first night. Day two saw the group paddle into Vixen Lake and camp on Buzzard Lake. On the third day students paddled from Buzzard along the aptly named Long Lake to the take out spot at the easternmost end of the lake. The total trip length was 16 km, and included 8 separate portages covering 2,500m.
For students who had not experienced classic Ontario canoe tripping, the experience was one of a lifetime. As another student commented “The trip gave me experience working and building things we actually needed to use for our comfort and survival. And we did this independently. The experience allowed us to be proud of what we managed during our time without any electronic and other usual daily stuff.” For others, the sense of accomplishment resonated strongly, “After a hard day it was important to make it clear to yourself that this was hard work that you were doing and that it will make you stronger; you see everything with clarity at that moment.”
When not on the canoe trip, students spent the remaining 3 days of the week on campus taking part in a variety of activities to support their learning. All students completed an integrated math/science culminating task that involved collecting lab data, and analyzing it using concepts and skills learned over the year in both classes. They worked individually or with a partner on an egg drop activity that took them through a full design and build process before the actual “drop.” Students connected with their English and Civics teachers to get support on culminating tasks already in progress for those classes and time was provided for them to relax and read a book! Our learning team provided a workshop on how to effectively prepare for exams. This workshop was well received by the students as it helped shed some light on the mystery of what to expect with exams - a first time experience for the majority of them.
All of the students participated in one of two community service projects right in the Village of Lakefield. One group worked with the Otonabee River Conservation Authority to complete the “Yellow Fish Road” project for the local subdivision. This involved painting yellow fish beside all storm sewers and delivering information to the residents about the importance of water only going down those sewars. The second group did a full garbage clean up for the Lakefield Rotary Greenway Trail Association that included the roadway from LCS into town, all of Isabel Morris Park, and along the trail by the water to Lock 26 on the Otonabee River and back up the trail on the other side of town.