Mary Enright's picture
Cupertino teacher: Greetings from Yosemite!
Mary Enright
November 19, 2010 - 12:35pm

Mary Enright is one of the heroic classroom teachers at Cupertino Middle School who coordinates the annual NatureBridge program for almost 300 eighth grade students every March. During the trip, Mary keeps a blog to communicate with the many curious parents of these eighth graders. The following excerpts are from the 2010 trip pages of the Cupertino Middle School website:

Monday, March 15, 2010, Yosemite Valley

Greetings from Yosemite!  It is absolutely gorgeous here today. The sun is shining, illuminating the granite cliffs that surround us. All the students are well and enjoying their first day on the trail. Today is a big teambuilding day so they can become more acquainted and comfortable with their new friends in their hiking group.

Last night we enjoyed a short hike to the visitor center during the twilight hours. It is one of the most spectacular times, as Half Dome is lit in the pale melon color called alpine glow. By the time we exited the program, we had one of the most spectacular views of the night sky. Many times the group wanted to stop on the way back to Curry Village just to gaze up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Several hiking groups took on the challenge of hiking to the very top of Yosemite Falls.  This hike requires the group to leave early, set a steady pace, and work as a team.  The views along the way are spectacular.

Personal challenges are a major objective of our week in Yosemite.  Students and adults learn that by working and sharing difficulties, what seems impossible is just another problem to be solved and overcome.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 Yosemite Valley

Today some of the groups followed their day of challenge hiking with a beautiful stroll through the meadows of Yosemite.  Traveling by bus to El Capitan allows the students several miles of casual hiking and stunning vistas.  It is not until you walk that way that the immensity of the granite walls becomes apparent.

I joined the Rotations 5 trail groups visit to Badger Pass for skiing.  Because of the spring ski conditions, all the groups started with a lesson on controlled movement down the slopes. The harder snow of the morning was one of many difficulties the students faced this morning.  Lunch was enjoyed at Summit Meadow, accompanied by games, snow ball fights, and time for journaling.

Upon our return from Badger Pass today, several of the hiking groups reported that they had made it to the top of Yosemite Falls. Despite the growing anxiety of the group given the stories from the day before, they conquered the falls in about 3.5 hours, and were back in camp by 4 p.m.  Quite an achievement, though one chaperone told me, "It is not the destination, it is the journey."

I think those words of wisdom sum up our week here in Yosemite.  Although the location provides the environment to restore oneself and to build new resilience, it is really the getting ready for the trip, and the path to the destinations that gives the students the tools and experiences that they will carry for a lifetime.

I'll close with a haiku that a student shared with me at dinner:

The roots of a tree
Intertwined, hearts and souls in
Blossoming Friendship

Saturday, March 20, 2010. Back Home

I, like all the students who attended the trip, have an assignment to wrap up the week with a reflection once we are home. This morning I realized how reluctant I was to join the buzz of daily life and instead would rather wallow in the pleasure of the week. This morning my newspapers sit unopened; instead I read through a couple of passages from new book I purchased, The Yosemite, by John Muir.  In this passage, John Muir reflected on many trees that grace Yosemite's valleys and high country.  

Thinking over the week just past and all the other weeks that I have gone to Yosemite with the students of Cupertino Middle School, it came to me that this program is like a tree and every year we add another ring: another set of stories, challenges, and good times. At the center core of the tree lies the founders of this trip who saw the importance and value in taking young people to the outdoors.

To read more of Mary's blog and see the web-based tools that Cupertino Middle School uses to coordinate their program and communicate with parents, visit the Yosemite Trip pages of the Cupertino Middle School website.

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