Read the MMS memories of past students as well as the stories of where their years post-MMS have taken them.
Nature’s Classroom Institute: The Fond Memory of Friendships Formed
Author: Alumnus, Sam Scheurell
During my time as a student at MMS, the parts of my education I appreciated the most were the weeks I spent at the Nature’s Classroom Institute (NC or NCI for short). For those readers unfamiliar with NC, let me explain: At certain times throughout the year (once in early Winter for Upper Elementary students and in Fall, Winter, and Spring for Junior High students)* the students would sacrifice a week of class to travel out to a complex in Mukwonago and spend a week there, learning about social and ecological issues through simulations, volunteer work, experiments, and other group activities.
My NC experience was meaningful in many ways, and I could recount at length the work I did to help preserve the expansive property; or the manifold simulations I participated in, concerning everything from the Revolutionary War, to the nature of Fear, to the way in which the media can distort and escalate situations. But for me, the most important part of the whole week of activities may be dismissed by many as a logistical fact. When we stayed at NC in Junior High, we roomed with complete strangers!
Well, not exactly. There were often several schools at the Institute at one time and students were placed, by the counselors, in rooms with other students whom they were not familiar (i.e. kids from other schools). Imagine being a self-conscious teenager in the throes of puberty, suddenly thrust out of his comfort zone into the presence of several other kids he knew nothing about. It was kind of scary.
Sometimes a shock is needed to start the ball rolling though. We were forced to come out of our shells rather quickly and learn how to form social bonds: a very valuable and hard-to-learn skill. I still remember some of the people who I met and became fast friends with during the span of the six weeks* we spent together. I still love and remember NC fondly for many reasons, but the people I met and the friendships I formed leave everything in the dust.
[Clarification: *Upper Elementary students do not travel to Nature's Classroom as a part of our current curriculum. Junior High students go to NC for one week in September and one week in December.]
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