I traveled to Blue Ridge, GA this past weekend for an annual reunion with my three best friends from high school. We have shared every emotion imaginable over the 29 years of our friendship, and I’m just as thankful for them in my life now as I was when we were cruising the streets of Fairburn, GA on Friday nights after football games. What our school lacked in academic rigor (with the exception of amazing English teachers), it made up for in the art of lasting friendships.
Speaking of art and how things change and remained unchanged in life, let’s get to the next hike in my family’s fundraising efforts! On the way to Blue Ridge, my route took me by a segment of the Bartram Trail I’ve yet to complete. I’ve been tackling the Bartram since late December (trip reports here and here) and have hopes to finish section hiking it in the next couple of months. The trail is named after William Bartram, an 18th century naturalist who traveled through the southeast, documenting his plant and animal encounters in vivid descriptions in his book, Bartram’s Travels. The trail itself is a rugged, often unkempt path, spanning about 115 miles in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia.
As the miles ticked by, I reflected on a school performance I had taken my kids to the day before in Asheville by a professional dance group from New York City, Abraham In Motion. The performance revolved around “…the historical legacy of two totemic triumphs in the international history of civil rights: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20th anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa.” As you can imagine, it was a performance that inspired deep thought and reflection and was so achingly beautiful that I was moved to tears.
In an interview about his educational upbringing, Kyle Abraham, the choreographer of the dance group, said, “Moreover, [the arts] make it much easier for someone like myself to tap into why the academics were important…It was the art classes that made a lot of the history and the literature that we were reading—it made it all relative. So it brought excitement to every other aspect of school, which of course then plays itself out in how people are then thinking about their future.” If that isn’t a testimonial for experiential and cross-curricular learning involving the arts, I don’t know what is.
The performance was a perfect segue into history and music education (Abraham’s work is created after he is inspired by certain artists or genres of music), but just as importantly, it encouraged thoughtful conversation about past and current events worldwide–highlighting how far we’ve come, yet emphasizing how far we still have to go. Here’s a preview of the performance we saw later that evening when Paige and I returned for the full show:
At Shining Rock, we will implement the classical trivium which promotes three stages of learning: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. The trivium advances in sophistication, building on factual based learning first, leading to inquiry, and then the rhetoric stage is a culmination of the other two stages as students are taught and encouraged to articulate their own opinions in writing and language. I would have loved to have taken a group of older students to this performance and been on a fly on the wall in their discussions following it. How did it make them feel? Did they want to learn more about the current and past events they were exposed to in the program? What symbolism did some of the various movements by the dancers represent? Were they inspired by what they saw to act rather than observe? Clearly, I could have talked about it all day with someone and was thankful my own children were willing participants. 🙂
Meanwhile, back at the hike, it was a blissful day of meandering, filled with both deep and simple thoughts. I have never finished a hike without taking at least one gem to add to my memory bank. While there wasn’t much jaw dropping scenery on this particular hike, small moments of wonder surrounded me–watching a Pileated Woodpecker fly over me and land on a nearby tree, his vibrant red head aiding my observation of him for a minute or two, the cacophony of a nest of baby birds in a rhododendron as I walked by, the cushioned patch of moss I walked through to skirt a large puddle in the middle of the trail, leaves beginning to unfurl from their buds on trees, and a simple lunch beside a cascading waterfall. After a long, cold winter, it was a welcome day of new life and warmth.
1500K for Shining Rock Update:
Miles Hiked: 12.4
To date, we have reached 26% of our $25,000 goal for Shining Rock Classical Academy’s experiential programming!! THANK YOU to all of you have contributed!! We still have a ways to go to reach our hiking goal, but if you’d like to contribute now, you can:
1. Send a check to 222 Methodist Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745, made out to Shining Rock Classical Academy.
2. Click on this link and you’ll be taken to Crowd Rise, an online fundraising website, where you can donate with a credit card.
All contributions are tax deductible and we will send you a receipt with our 501c3 information.