The Clanmore Voice

September 22, 2021

Archive for Clanmore Montessori School

Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: The Main Event

posted in Clanmore News
04/05/2018  |  Comments Off on Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: The Main Event

 

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For our third and final blog this year, we would like to focus on some of the main courses we serve for the hot lunch program. The main course can be described as follows:

A main course is the featured or primary dish in a meal. In some
establishments it may in fact be called the “entrée.” The main dish is
usually the heaviest, heartiest, and most complex or substantive dish on
a menu. The main ingredient is usually meat or fish; in vegetarian
meals, the main course sometimes attempts to mimic a meat course.

 

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Although we do not “plate” the food for the lunch program, we would like to share some practical serving tips. Read the clock! A foolproof way to arrange food on a plate is to place the carbohydrate (pasta, rice, bread, etc.) at “11 o’clock,” the vegetables at “2 o’clock,” and the protein at “6 o’clock” from the diner’s point of view.

This will also help you portion correctly, if you remember that vegetables should cover about half of the plate, starch one fourth, and protein one fourth. When planning the lunch menu these serving proportions were part of our calculations so that we could ensure appropriate allocation of these food groups.

 

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Throughout the cold winter months, nothing is more appealing than home-style comfort foods. Traditionally, comfort foods are associated with high carbohydrate, high-calorie meals which do not fall into the category of healthy eating.  However, with a little thought and creativity, it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds, warmth and satisfaction with a healthy, nutritious balance.

 

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Classic Meatloaf
Yield – 8 servings
6 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
½ cup low sodium beef stock
2 large mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 celery rib
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 large eggs, beaten
2 lbs. lean ground beef (or 1 ¼ lbs. ground beef and ¾ lb. ground pork)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs as needed to bring mixture to a firm consistency

Glaze
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread pieces and beef stock in a bowl and let stand
until liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, puree the mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food
processor.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushroom mixture, cook
and stir until tender and liquid is evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and cook one
minute longer. Cool slightly.

Beat together the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. In a large bowl
mix together the beef, egg mixture, vegetable mixture and bread mixture.
Season with salt and pepper.

Shape into a loaf and place on a vegetable spray coated rack on a baking pan.
Bake for one hour. Meanwhile prepare glaze ingredients and brush over loaf.
Bake for another 15 – 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into centre
reads 165 degrees F.

Let stand for ten minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.

 

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Our four-week rotating lunch schedule also allows us to feature a variety of pasta lunches. Pasta is a slowly digesting complex carbohydrate food and is the perfect place to start when building a healthy diet. It is low on the glycemic index, meaning that it has a better effect on blood sugar, offering the body a slow and steady source of energy.

Pasta pairs wonderfully with vegetables, olive oil, beans, herbs (whole or in sauce form) fish, and lean meat or cheese for added flavor and protein.

 

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What constitutes a healthy pasta meal?

A healthy pasta meal is truly the sum of its parts and features two key factors: what you pair with pasta, and how much pasta is served in a meal.

 

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One dish that has been well received is the beef tenderloin, broccoli stir fry. Tender sautéed strips of beef tenderloin are combined with steamed broccoli florets, mixed with a mild seasoned sauce and served over egg noodles.

 

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Another successful meal is the chicken teriyaki stir-fry. Succulent cubes of seasoned cooked chicken, mini corn pieces, and green snap peas are stir fried in teriyaki sauce then combined with stir-fry noodles.

 

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When serving the younger children, we have had better success presenting the meat, vegetables and pasta separately with sauce served as a side they may choose to add or not. This gives the children the opportunity to taste and experience new flavours and to become comfortable with items they may never have seen before.

 

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We offer a wide variety of lunch mains, pulled pork tenderloin served on rice and pulled white chicken breast served on whole wheat buns, our “egg McMuffins” served with hash brown patties, skillet lasagna and soon to be featured beef tacos to
name just a few more.

 

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We are researching and planning new offerings to add to our luncheon repertoire always with the goal of instilling and fostering a knowledge base, lifestyle choice and appreciation of healthy nutritious food.

 

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It’s about making it a little harder for children to make the wrong choices, and a little easier to make the right ones.
Bon appétit!
Chef Bev

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Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: Bread

posted in Clanmore News
01/25/2018  |  Comments Off on Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: Bread

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The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

In the early planning phase of the lunch program, we discussed the possibility of making our own bread on site.  What better way to stimulate children’s appetites than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the school?

Although it seemed a somewhat ambitious plan at the onset, it has become a reality incorporated into our menu.  On several early mornings, dough is made from scratch for Challah bread, whole wheat buns, chicken cheese dog crescents, and pizza pockets.

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Our French Toast, cooked maple apples, home-made chicken noodle soup Wednesday has become one of our signature luncheons and preparations begin on Monday with the making of Challah bread.

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Challah Bread is a Jewish egg bread and is a finely grained bread, most often slightly sweet (for a bread) and eggy. This rich bread is perfect for French Toast and adds a hint of honey flavor with a tender texture. We would like to share this recipe with you and encourage you to give it a try!

Challah Egg Bread

Yield:  2 loaves

1 package (1/4 ounce) quick rise instant yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1/2 cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour

EGG WASH:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk

In a large bowl, combine water, honey, oil, and eggs; mix until smooth. In a separate bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.  Stir in into egg mixture to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead only until smooth and elastic, (very little kneading is required.) Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two.  Working with one piece at a time, cut the dough into thirds. Roll each piece into a 16-in. rope. Place ropes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and braid. Pinch ends to seal; tuck under.

For egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk egg and milk until blended; brush over each loaf.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

French Toast:

The sliced Challah bread is dipped in a mixture of eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon and baked on a griddle.  There is much anticipation as this delightful aroma permeates the school!

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Pulled pork and pulled chicken lunches are accompanied by whole wheat buns made fresh in the morning as is the dough for our chicken cheese dog crescents accompanied by the home-made alphagetti featured in our Fall blog.  Pizza pockets have become another favourite and the pizza dough is made on site as well.

We have also served various quick breads: sweet potato corn muffins and teddy bear and heart shaped Buttermilk biscuits which accompany the glazed pineapple ham and sweet potato fries lunch.

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The winter menu will have several new items including sliced roast beef served on multigrain seeded bread containing edible plant seeds which provide even more vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.

The goal of providing healthy, whole-food based lunches to the children has been the drive behind the hot lunch program.  By making many of the yeast breads and quick breads we can ensure that preservatives, additives and artificial dyes are excluded and the resulting products are pure, delicious and always healthy.

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Our philosophy has been summed up quite aptly by one of my favourite chefs:

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
Julia Child

Until next time,

Chef Bev

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Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: Tomatoes

posted in Clanmore News
09/28/2017  |  Comments Off on Our In-house Lunch Program- Behind the Scenes: Tomatoes

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Several years ago it was decided that it was time for Clanmore to launch its own in-house hot lunch program.  Together, Wendy McCrae and I embarked on this journey and project.  Now in our third year and providing daily lunches for over sixty children, we would like to share with you some of our thoughts about the program, our philosophy about healthy, wholesome food and our vision for the future.

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Our society has become aware of the inherent high cost of fast food.  It is cheap in price but as we have come to learn, low in nutritional value and in many cases a passport to obesity and diabetes.  Even fast food chains have altered and adapted their menus making more items from scratch and incorporating healthier versions of favourites without the high sodium, sugar and unhealthy fat content.

Consumers are leading a great food awakening.  Look at the produce aisles in supermarkets where organic, heritage, and locally grown products are now featured and accessible.  In the past, junk food was the mainstay and real wholesome food was few and far between.  The tables have turned where more people are realizing the importance of eating well.  The medical community now views food as medicine and the diets we live by as the new frontier of nutritional science.  

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Healthy food is fresh food, whole food, low on the processing chain. We still have a lot of work to do to make it as convenient, affordable, and accessible as junk food, especially for children.  This objective was paramount in our minds as we worked on the menu for the luncheon program.

When Wendy and I first met to discuss our direction, we realized we were in for a bit of a challenge.  Even with the best of efforts, it would be unrealistic to think it would be easy to satisfy all the diverse palettes of a large group of children.  We decided the best approach would be to focus on kids’ favourites, familiar and comforting.  We would make as much of the food as possible from scratch and we would opt for healthier versions of classics.

The children were asked for their input as well.  We surveyed each of the classrooms and gave them the opportunity to voice their opinions as to what they wanted to see in their lunch program. Many of these items were incorporated into the menu.  As well, each classroom was provided with a suggestion box so they could continue to give us their feedback.

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One of the dishes we have included is chicken strips cut on-site from whole chicken breasts, dipped in a three-stage breading station of flour and seasonings, eggs and buttermilk, and then coated with crushed cornflakes.  The seasonings of paprika, basil, sage and marjoram build the flavor profile not an excess amount of sodium.  The chicken strips are then baked not fried and are served with roasted baby potatoes.  Each lunch is served with sides of fresh fruit and vegetables cut into serving sizes easy for the children to handle.

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Another lunch served which has become a Clanmore favourite is our made from scratch Mac and Cheese.  A white Béchamel sauce is the base for our cheddar cheese sauce, made fresh for each group served.  Butter, flour, paprika, dry mustard, pepper, milk, grated cheddar cheese and freshly cooked elbow pasta combine into a delicious creamy dish the children love.

Wednesday is soup day at Clanmore and each week we feature a made from scratch soup.  One of our classic lunches is our whole wheat grilled cheese sandwich served with home-made tomato alphabet soup.  We would like to share this recipe with you and the process involved so you can have a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.

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Tomato Soup

2 carrots
2 onions
2 teaspoons of pre-chopped garlic
2 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 x 14 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
6 large ripe tomatoes – leave the green stems on!
¼ bunch fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
One 5.5 can of tomato paste
7 ½ cups low sodium chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
Pinch of sugar (if needed) *
White pepper to taste
Cooked alphabet pasta

Our home-made tomato soup is a classic and there is no comparison between this version and store bought canned when it comes to flavor and nutrition.  The main ingredient – a lovely tray of fresh whole tomatoes.  

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Directions

Wash all vegetables then cut the carrots, garlic, onions and celery into small uniform pieces. Toss together in a medium bowl. Place a large pot on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add vegetables and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the carrots have softened and the onion is lightly golden.

Add the canned and fresh tomatoes including the green stalks that may still be attached to some of them (they add flavor and nutrition.)  Add the chicken stock (or vegetable broth) then turn the heat up high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, put the lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes (or until cooked through, stirring occasionally.)  

Reduce heat to stop bubbling then stir in the chopped basil.

Carefully ladle into a blender and puree until smooth.  This will take several blender fills (be sure to remove small plastic cap piece of the blender so a vacuum is not created and cover with a towel while you blend.) Pour pureed soup into a china cap strainer clipped over a  clean pot to strain out the thick vegetable fibres.

Stir in sugar (as needed) and pepper and taste to check flavor.

Add the desired amount of alphabet pasta, stir and serve.

*Taste your sauce at the very end of cooking.  If it tastes a little too acidic, that’s when you add a pinch of sugar. Add it just like you would add salt: a little bit at a time, until you get the flavor you want.

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The luncheon trolley is ready to roll – healthy, nutritious and eye pleasing!

Our tomato soup also serves as the base for our Italian tomato sauce used for several other lunches.  We add Italian seasoning, bay leaves, tomato paste and the vegetable puree left from our tomato soup (nothing is wasted!)

Even the Alphaghetti we serve originates with our delicious tomato soup – no canned alphaghetti for our kids!

Healthy eating is also balanced eating including a celebratory splurge now and then.  The children love our chicken balls with rice day.  We do not make the chicken balls on site but we carefully selected a brand with chunks of white chicken meat and a minimal coating of batter.  They are a treat everyone looks forward to and they are a healthier version of a favoured food we are comfortable including in our menu.  

Over the past three years Wendy and I have learned together, grown together, worried and laughed together.  We have never wavered in our commitment to provide healthy food to our Clanmore children and we look forward to expanding the program to include many more varieties of foods and luncheon combinations.

A thought to leave you with…..healthy means eating delicious food made with loving intent.

Until next time, eat well, laugh often!

Chef Bev

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Portfolio Meetings from a Parent’s Perspective

posted in Montessori Education
05/24/2017  |  Comments Off on Portfolio Meetings from a Parent’s Perspective

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The Portfolio Meetings in the Upper Elementary classroom are scheduled close to the end of the school year.  As parents, we are a guest in our son’s or daughter’s classroom for the morning and they treat us as such!

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The students create their portfolio at the beginning of the year and contribute to it as the year progresses.  It consists of numerous hours spent in each area of the classroom and subject matter.

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The children present their work to us in a way that promotes conversation and a deeper understanding of what happens in the classroom.  This platform allows the children to discuss their work so that parents can understand the process the child is going through. The work chosen for this meeting is selected by the children themselves out of their interest in sharing with their parents.

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As a parent, I see it as a chance for my children to describe to me what they are doing and how they are doing it; how they articulate it.  Do they have an understanding of the material and how deep does that go?  Do they have a passion for this or did this project ignite a passion for something that I had no idea about? Do their eyes light up?  Are they serious and is that because they are nervous as this is their first time/experience?  Are they relaxed now as they have done this in year four and five?

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Listening to your son or daughter as they describe their work grants you great access into their world.  It provides observations that will help you see them in a different way and allows you to take in, digest and aid them in being the best version of themselves.

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It’s amazing what you can learn from your child, especially when they have an opportunity to present to you as their guest.

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After The Curtain Falls: Theatre Reflections

posted in The Student Voice
05/11/2017  |  Comments Off on After The Curtain Falls: Theatre Reflections

The Middle School students recently performed an original, collaborative triptych of theatre shorts titled Abducted. After all the workshops, writing, casting, staging, producing, directing, designing of sets and costumes, marketing, ticket sales…the final curtain fell. The students then took some time to look back on the process of creating live theatre and to reflect on what that process meant to them.  Here are their thoughts………

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“For me, I think that the overall production was good, but the work that was required to put it on was really hard. The hardest part, in my opinion, was definitely organizing the blocking for the scripts. It was hard to mix the writers’ vision of the scene with what was possible, so we had to work hard and alter a lot of things to find a good compromise. In the end, though, I think it was worth it because I had a lot of fun performing and I’m really happy that I was able to be a part of it.”
~C.T.

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“At the beginning of the year, we worked on sustained and percussive movement. For those of you who don’t know what these movements are, I will gladly tell you. Sustained movements are very slow luxurious movements that slowly turn into something big. Percussive movements are very sharp and fast movements that have a slight accent. This is what defines them. We used these movements during our play, which was extremely helpful for me to make my acting more believable and authentic! This whole experience was amazing. I hope people enjoyed the show.”
~S.O.

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“As a shy person, the experience of going on stage and giving all my effort to make my character real has made me a lot more confident to stand in front of a crowd. This experience brought us all closer, and it gave us peer collaboration skills. On the marketing team, we designed posters, tickets, and got sponsors. The hardest part was getting sponsors on time, but we all got done on time.
The work we did definitely gave us a really good idea of what it’s like to be older, like calling people for information, collaborating with new people, and planning out large projects.
Overall, the play took nine months to put on. Although we were sometimes behind on our work, we were able to put it all together in time. I think we could have been more organized, but the challenge was important. I do think Clanmore should continue to do this.”
~A.B.

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“Every small task that we did during this production helped to make the final product. Probably the hardest part of the production was collecting all of the sound effects, and making sure that on the day of the play we would be able to have the proper sound effects to give the proper feel to the play. Overall, I thought that the whole play taught us to work hard and it also gave us some valuable life skills.”
~J.T.

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“I had a great experience working the lighting for the second play, The Election. I enjoyed talking with the people that we rented the lights and speakers from. It would be really cool to make a career out of something like that.”
~J.A.

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“The theatre experience was an amazing challenge that pushed our class to work together and to individually take on responsibilities. Learning the ways of drama, prepping for the show, selling tickets, designing costumes, and doing make-up were all in effect in the months before the show. Overall, the entire production was fantastic to make possible and is something I will definitely look back on proudly.”
~E.T.

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“Theater has been an amazing experience, but it definitely was hard work. My favourite part was planning the costumes with my class. Theater has opened my eyes and made me into a more confident speaker.”
~Z.W.

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“Theater was a really fun experience. Definitely, at some points it was very stressful, and you really need to stay on top of your work! I was on tech, and it was very neat seeing all of the expensive materials.  Probably my favorite part was playing around and learning about the sound and lighting board.”
~J.K.

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“This play production was one of the most fun experiences that I’ve had in my history of being at Clanmore. When we did the auditions in the beginning I was very nervous that I was going to get a role that I did not like, but that all changed when I was told that I would be acting as Donald Trump. I also was excited about playing the person that would tie the whole play together, the director. Props were a bit of a struggle for me but eventually I got all the props in and we could start rehearsing with them. Performing in front of a crowd didn’t make me any more nervous, it just made me even more enthusiastic about the production and made me want to do more like when I walked off the stage as Donald Trump saying “I’m rich! I have a lawyer!”. Impersonations are one of my favourite things to do which made doing Donald Trump and the director, Harriet Campbell, even more interesting. It was so fun and I want to give a big thanks to Rainer [Clanmore Drama Specialist] for making this amazing experience totally awesome! I really hope I will get to do something like this in the future.”
~F.A.

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Art Through The Years At Clanmore

posted in Montessori Education
03/10/2017  |  Comments Off on Art Through The Years At Clanmore

Paint- Art Studio

Art in the Toddler Environment is a big component of the curriculum.  Expression is always available with chalk, tempera paint & water colours, coloured pencils & markers, stickers, glueing shapes on paper, stamping & dabbing.  It is through this work that allows the child freedom of expression, repetition and reflection of their work.  It is a beautiful process that incorporates mind and body with large movements aided by repetition that refines those large movements into developing control and dexterity.

 

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“At the Toddler level, it is the beginning of using the tools.”  Elaine Kerr-Morgan

 

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Casa children are introduced to the elements of design such as line, colour, texture, shape and space with the Montessori materials.  There is an art tower that Elaine Kerr-Morgan our Art Specialist created alongside the casa directresses. It is a fixed material within the casa classroom.

 

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“Casa children are refining their hand, eye coordination.”  Elaine Kerr-Morgan

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In the Lower Elementary community, children begin to explore using the medium of art within the classroom as they transform clay into a sculpture in a diorama in support of a project or make a mask as a visual display of culture interlaced within history. Studio time in the art room allows for this to happen throughout the week.   It becomes a tool when exploring timelines as a freedom expression.

 

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The Lower Elementary children now leave the classroom for art instruction in the Clanmore art studio.  They also experience trips out to galleries and libraries to explore artists nationally and internationally.  They immerse themselves in the language and unique style of a particular artist and are exposed to the different disciplines of art. In the studio, they explore their own unique style and make their own creations.

 

Lower

“Lower Elementary is about refining and exploring the elements of design so they are more developed in their minds.”  Elaine Kerr- Morgan

 

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At the Upper Elementary level, children continue to develop their own style with design elements and principles.  They come to understand the different uses of expression within mixed media.   In and out of the classroom art intertwines with their work as they become more aware that as a society we are indeed surrounded by art and expression everywhere we go.  Principles learned like space, rhythm, balance, variety, emphasis, repetition and unity give light to understanding from a distinct perspective.  Perhaps this perspective is their own or perhaps it is a glimpse into the artist’s point of view or period of time in which the piece was created.
This is a time “where the children continue to refine their skill with different media, where they begin to understand the use of elements in cooperation with the principles of design.”  Elaine Kerr-Morgan

 

Upper

In Middle School expression of one’s individuality is front row for the adolescent. Art is a great outlet for this.

 

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Over two years they explore photography, optical illusion, two point perspective, balance with symmetry, asymmetry, bilateral and radial along with installation art: visual and sound art. They study art history with a focus on historical and contemporary art with gallery visits.  Within the micro-economy program they make items for their spring and winter markets like jewellery and when studying drama they dive into set design.  Art is layered throughout the middle school years as in life; the children now begin to see it everywhere they go.

 

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“This is preparation for high school. Solidifying the understanding principles of design and using these principles to evaluate a piece of artwork.”  Elaine Kerr-Morgan

 

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The Odyssey Trip: A Student’s Perspective

posted in The Student Voice
09/07/2016  |  Comments Off on The Odyssey Trip: A Student’s Perspective

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You wake up to the soft chirping of birds in the forest outside your tent. The morning is chilly and crisp, but later on, the sun beats down on you as your tired arms paddle down the river. Then the night is cool again as you huddle near the campfire, roasting marshmallows while the sun dips down and the shining stars come out. This is a day on the Odyssey Trip, a week-long wilderness canoe trip at the beginning of our Montessori Middle School year. This trip is an amazing and priceless experience that we will remember all our lives and one that every Middle School student should have the chance to experience.

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Odyssey Trip 13In school we read about nature, but students do not usually get to experience it, and learn from looking, touching and observing the real thing. On the Odyssey Trip, we saw many different types of plants, animals, and insects. We saw massive Eastern White Pines, the tallest tree in Eastern Canada, watched dragonflies buzz around and land on our arms, and heard the call of the loon in the evening, the same ones we saw dive under the water earlier that day.

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We learned about various types of trees and how to identify them. We observed animals, such as beavers and bald eagles, in their natural habitat. As a result, we realized that we needed to respect the flora and fauna, to not make an impact on them, and to watch out for things that could be harmful, such as poison ivy.

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We visited a few old-growth forests, and saw how tall the trees were and how long they had been there, longer than any of us could ever live. There were many massive trees, towering above us, and we would sometimes stop to give one a hug. We even measured how many people it would take to reach around the trunk! The trees were amazing. Old-growth forests are forests that have been there for anywhere from 100 to 400 years. We learned that despite the many attempts to preserve them from the logging industry, we are slowly losing them, and now only 1-2% of the world’s red and white pine old-growth forests are left.

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Our trip helped us understand that as we do not have much of nature left, we must take care of it or we will lose it soon. On the trip, we had a seminar on forest conservation around the campfire, as well as many designated times to sit and think on our own. The trip really helped us learn about and connect with nature, and inspired us to conserve it.

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In addition, the Odyssey Trip built our practical skills, and our character as well. We learned how to make a fire and cook tasty meals over it, how to paddle and steer a canoe, and how to properly pack our dry sacks. Not only did it teach us wilderness skills, but something more important, life skills.

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One value we practiced was perseverance, because we faced many obstacles, and had to know how to keep going and how to work hard to achieve success. Activities like portaging and canoeing were tough, but we knew to keep going, bear the weight of the pack a little while longer during the portages, and paddle a little harder through the waves on a windy day to make it to our campsite. We also discovered how to trust ourselves and push ourselves further.

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In addition, we learned to be responsible and independent. One of our duties was to pack the barrels that carried our dry sacks, and another was to be responsible for all of our belongings. We were also taught to be independent and not to ask for help all the time, but to try to solve problems ourselves.

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Another benefit of the trip is the feeling of gratitude that it inspired. We could imagine how it might be to live in poverty, because we lived with fewer resources, and had to make do without many supplies. When we get older and move forward in life, we will be happy that the Odyssey Trip gave us a chance to build our characters.

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One of the most important life skills the Odyssey Trip has taught us is how to work as a team. The Odyssey Trip takes place at the beginning of the year so that we can learn to work as a group for the rest of the school year. During the trip, there were many times where we learned to support one another. For example, during a portage there would be a few people to carry one canoe, and we would all have to communicate really well in order to get the heavy canoe across the rocky terrain. There were some hurdles, but we made it through, making suggestions, taking the role as a leader, and giving support and cheering each other on to keep going.

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Every single day in the morning we had to load the canoes, and pack the bags, and in the afternoon, we had to make it to our campsite, lift all the canoes out of the water, grab all the packs, set up camp, and collect firewood. No one could relax, even if they were really tired, until the whole set-up was done. It required a lot of team effort, and we improved a lot, so by the end of the trip, we were a much faster and more efficient team.

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Not only did we work as one group, we became closer as individuals. We got to know about each of our friends better, because we spent every minute of the week together, solving problems and having fun.  We would regularly switch partners and canoe groups, so that everybody would learn about everyone, and know about their hobbies, family, and personality. We also got to know the teachers well, and they discovered our strengths, preferences, personalities, and goals.

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Throughout the trip, we had so much fun: laughing at inside jokes, swimming in the icy water, exploring the forest, and snuggling together near the campfire, singing and sharing stories. The Odyssey Trip gave us a perfect opportunity to work together as a team, bond with one another, and have a fantastic time.

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All Middle Schoolers should have the chance to go on the Odyssey Trip, not just Montessori students. On the trip, we had an enjoyable week of canoeing, learning about nature, discussing conservation, building character, and laughing with friends. After that, we came home as a team. This trip is a one-of-a-kind experience that has taught us many lessons. We made so many memories, and we will treasure them all our lives.

Mariyam N.
Fall 2015

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