Students in the eighth-grade class of Whidbey Island Waldorf School are preparing for their final journey together, and what an adventure it will be.
The close-knit group, of which many have been together at the school since first grade, have been working in the community to raise money for a week-long trip to the Moab desert in Utah this month.
Teacher Angela Lindstrom, who has taught the class for eight years, said the trip is a rite of passage for the students. Each eighth-grade class at the school culminates with a class field trip, as it’s the graduating year for the students who move on to separate high schools the following year.
Lindstrom said this year the 15-student class chose a trip that reflects many of the lessons they have been working on this year.
“The trip is physically and mentally challenging; it will show them how capable they are,” she said.
The students put on two festivals — one required earning a food handler’s permit — a talent show and sold Christmas decorations to raise funds for the trip.
Each student also completed a personal physical challenge to raise money for the trip. Students found sponsors in the community to support their challenge, which ranged from jumping off docks into the frigid winter water, unicycling seven miles through the Saratoga Woods, and tap dancing and singing for the first time.
The students have raised money for the trip for more than a year, bringing in more than $16,000 to pay for the trip.
The adventure will include a variety of activities including whitewater rafting, hiking, backpacking, archery, rock climbing and rappelling. They will also hear and learn from Navajo elders.
The students chose the trip to Moab for its natural wonders and quiet reflective time, Lindstrom said. This will be one of the last times they’re together, she added.
“They are so ready and capable,” Lindstrom said of her students. “It’s a joy to see how much they can do through this time together.”
Eighth-grade student John Thomas, 14, said he is looking forward to the trip and the many adventures that await. John’s challenge was to jump off of a dock into the winter water.
“I’m most excited to go whitewater rafting,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to traveling with the class.”
Students are also preparing for their presentations on April 3 and 4 at Clinton Community Hall, which are open to the school community.
Sheila Weidendorf, school enrollment director, said in an email the projects are special for the students during a year “full of challenges and growth.”
In the beginning of the year, each student picks a topic they want to explore for six months outside of the classroom. The student finds a mentor in the community to meet with them over the time period and learn from them.
The presentations cover a variety of subjects including designing and building a solar panel energy source, making fused glass, photography and creating a website. Each student will show their findings during the presentation.
“This experience not only enriches the student, but gives them such a strong foundation in formal inquiry, research methods and builds their confidence in public speaking, perfectly finishing their preparations for high school,” Weidendorf said.
“Each year our students bring such a depth and breadth of awareness to their research and project presentations,” she continued. “It never fails to inspire both the adults and the other students here at WIWS.”