Reflecting on Middle School Community Week

Three students share lessons from their favorite experiences during the 2017 Middle School Community Week.

To see all photos from the week, click here

By: Alaina Jefferson
Grade 8 Student

In the Middle School, there are many amazing opportunities that will arise throughout the year. One of those opportunities is during Community Week when the eighth grade gets the chance to go to a five-day camp at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing. There you can participate in multiple activities from rock climbing, to mountain biking, to canoeing, and so much more! You will also create bonds between new people and find out more about yourself and others.

I'll have to admit: I was quite nervous about Wilderness. I had only been away from home for a day or two on my own, so the concept of staying away for an entire school week was still one I had yet to wrap my head around. However, knowing that I had great friends with me along every step of the way made it easier to push the nervousness to the back of my mind. Exhilaration flowed through me as I sat on the bus, eager for what waited for me in the week ahead.

During the week, I had the opportunity to experience many different activities, all of which I had never done before. Mountain biking was by far one of the hardest activities, but at the same time one of the most fun. I had ridden around my neighborhood a bunch of times, so I thought mountain biking would be a breeze. It proved to be the exact opposite. I was jolted around by dips in the dirt path, tree branches were slapping at my arms and legs, and my legs got so exhausted from biking uphill. Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson that day about persistence.

Another fun experience we had was caving, also known as spelunking. Most of my group had some qualms about this certain activity; some were claustrophobic, others didn't like dark spaces very much. But we all decided to face our fears head on, as a team. So together, we ventured on into the cave. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, and I'm sure my entire group would agree. The cave was so peaceful because there wasn't much noise except for our breathing and the squish of our boots in the mud. Whenever there was a spot in the cave where someone in our group wasn't comfortable, the rest of the team would give them encouraging words. At the end of all that, our group felt less like acquaintances and more like a family.

That week at Wilderness was most definitely one of best weeks I've ever had. I was able to step out of and expand my comfort zone, and I now have an overall eagerness to try new things. I became closer to my friends and even made some new ones. All in all, this was an experience to remember and I am excited for the tradition to pass down fun to future generations.

By: Hayden Ashworth
Grade 7 Student

The first two days of Community Week were spent at Triple C Camp, an outdoor camp near Charlottesville. We did high and low ropes courses, including zip lining, high wires, and climbing walls, and stayed overnight in cabins there. I feel that experience was enjoyable for the students because in the exercises, everyone got to share their ideas and solutions. This allowed the rest of the students to see unique perspectives on problems, and also how other people solved them.

The next day was spent going to community service locations and volunteering. Steward groups went to the The Virginia Home, Hilliard House Shelter, Partnership for Families, The Doorways, Goochland Free Clinic, and East End Cemetery. This was a valuable experience because it allowed the students in groups to get to know one another a little better. 

I was absent Thursday, so I cannot account for that day. However, I was present Friday, which was probably my favorite day out of that week. It focused completely on three electives: art, chorus, and theatre. There were three large groups that rotated working on certain electives. This was great, as students got to see other students shine in electives they did not take. Then, at the end, the groups performed for one another, so the whole grade got to see new talents. Then we all watched a movie, Singin’ in the Rain, which seemed to be widely enjoyed by the grade. Community Week was full of valuable lessons and exciting experiences.

By: Annabelle Krawitz
Grade 6 Student

For Community Week, the sixth-grade students went on two great field trips to Berkeley Plantation and to Alvis Dairy Farm. There, we were shown around by knowledgeable, fun tour guides and learned all about the old plantation and how milk gets processed. We also had a day of cooking at school, helped by many chefs and guides. The trips were very fun and educational.

During the trip to Berkeley Plantation, the students rotated through three stations. In the first station, we got a tour of the plantation house. Each room had portraits of previous house owners, most of them from the Harrison family. There were bedrooms with small beds and intricately patterned wooden desks. The front hallway was the ballroom. All of the slaves’ quarters and wooden buildings were burned down during the Civil War. Members of the Union army even stayed at the multi-acre plantation. There were only two other structures left. First was the guest house where visitors would stay. The Harrisons had a lot of visitors including several presidents. In fact, President Benjamin Harrison was from Berkeley Plantation! There was also a kitchen, which was a small brick building beside the house. There was a tunnel from the kitchen to the house for servants to bring food to the dining room, but the tunnel was boarded up because the Union army had camped there and used it as a prison for Confederate soldiers.

At the second station, we enjoyed a corn maze through which we ran and tried to map every turn or twist to the exit. The third station allowed us to make bouquets for Meals On Wheels to deliver to people along with food. We cut beautiful flowers from a field and arranged them in vases.

After all of these activities, we got to see a real working combine harvester. There was a farmer there to answer questions about the big harvesting machine and other workings of the farm. We learned how technology helps agriculture and even got to sit in the driver’s seat of the combine!

On the second grade 6 field trip of Community Week, we went to Alvis Dairy Farm. Here there were also three rotations. First, we saw cows being milked by the milking machines. The dairy cows are milked three times a day: once at 6 a.m., again at 1 p.m., and finally at 10 p.m. A person would attach vacuum-like tubes to the cows’ udders, which would start sucking the milk from the cow.

Then we went below the milking area and felt the pipes to see how hot the milk is when it comes out of the cow (about 100 degrees Farenheit) and after it goes through the freezer (about 37 degrees Farenheit). We saw the now cold milk being pumped into tankers to be taken away by truck.

Afterwards, we went to the feed storage area and saw what the cows are fed to keep them as healthy as possible. The dairy cows are fed ground-up corn. We got to feel the soy cakes made out of leftover soy after the sauce is pressed out. The students saw the extra minerals and vitamins added to the feed for the healthiest diet possible. There was a special vitamin for cows who hadn’t had calves and for ones who had.

During the third rotation, we got to go try to pet the cows. Some kids even saw a cow giving birth to her calf!

The next day, we enjoyed a day of cooking. For half of the morning in the Bryan Innovation Lab, some students got to compete in their own Chopped-style competition. We were given a special ingredient (apples) and had to make the best dish from it. In the end, all of the groups got awards for different things such as most colorful dish, most creative food, and best taste!

Next, we rotated to a food label activity. Here, we got to read the labels on chips and sodas and figure out which ones were the worst for you and which ones had the most sugar in them. We also watched a video on processed food and natural food, as well as made and ate a healthy snack.

Finally, we went back to the BIL and thought of ways to prevent food waste. We made posters and presented our ideas. When we had finished, we got to taste some things from the BIL garden.

We thank all the guides and teachers who made this week and these trips possible and as amazing as they were. Everyone had so much fun! 


Steward Voices

Steward is an atmosphere that fosters confidence—something we have seen in all three of our kids. Whether it is playing a new sport, running for a seat on the Honor Council, or singing a solo on Talent Night, they have been encouraged to try, to experience, and to grow.
- Dan and Kathi Campbell, Parents of Abbie ’19, Emma ’17, and Ben ’14

Steward Voices

Steward is the right place for Micah and Kiri because they are able to develop strong connections with their teachers, which in turn facilitates confidence and resilience in their learning. Everyone at Steward knows your name and makes you feel so welcome.
- Paul and Janet Yoon, Parents of Kiri ’27 and Micah ’26

Steward Voices

Steward helped me develop the skills I needed to succeed in college and the courage and confidence to set competitive career goals for myself. But, these skills weren’t lessons I learned just in Steward’s classrooms; they came from the athletic fields, in the hallways, and during Honor Council meetings, too.
- Grace Henderson ’10

Steward Voices

Steward provides Andrew with a nurturing environment which fosters his individualism, develops exemplary character traits, and continuously provides him with creative learning experiences. Consequently, Andrew ‘loves’ school and anticipates each day with joy, enthusiasm, and excitement.
- Betsy Jollay, Grandmother of Andrew O’Leary ’25

Steward Voices

I love all that The Steward School has done for Trace. Steward has uncovered Trace’s talents, celebrated his individuality, and strengthened his belief in himself. The faculty and staff offer an amazing balance of challenge and comfort, encouraging the best from all students. I can’t imagine Trace being anywhere else. Thank you, Steward School.
- Ron Coles, Father of Trace Coles ’19 and Grade 5 Teacher

Steward Voices

Being a member of The Steward School international program has been an awesome experience. The community has helped me tremendously along the way.
- Bowen Chen ’15


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