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The Alumni of The Mountain School

The Mountain School is a school in Vermont that focuses on community engagement, land work and education. Seven Steiner, Eliza Braunschneider and Eloise MacDougald all have individual connections to this school.
Art+by+Kaylee+Gadepalli
Art by Kaylee Gadepalli

The Mountain School is a semester-long program located in Vershire, Vermont that immerses students in a collective space to learn about a property and how to take care of the land.

The school accepts only 50 high school juniors for a three-month semester away from home. Classes are taught daily, yet they include time for chores to be completed and social time. Education, farming, forestry, and trails are incorporated into the school curriculum, with students working as a team to take care of 418 acres of land, creating a unique experience for these juniors.

Tasks incorporated into the curriculum of this school include learning how to travel safely, live comfortably outside, and get to know the campus. Honors Environmental Studies, Honors English, and TMS Seminar are required of all students. Next, students can choose three electives, such as AP U.S. History, Math, Honors Chemistry, Culinary Studies, Honors Spanish, Mandarin, etc.

Many students at Community High School have attended The Mountain School, with all returning with nothing but good things to say, leaving them with an experience that has altered the trajectory of their lives.

Eliza Braunschneider, a junior at CHS, attended The Mountain School, making many delightful memories.

“Especially in the fall semester, we do all the harvesting, and it’s amazing because what you harvest you get to eat and see what was produced,” Braunschneider said. “We got to learn a lot about things like the ways the American food system works and the ways it’s unequal and the ways that agriculture works and how small farming works.”

All this knowledge of helping to produce food helped shape Eliza’s views on the food system. When reflecting on their unique school experience, Braunschneider found it was unlike their experience at Community High School, finding many differences between both schools. They felt that their experience at the school was temporary and that nothing had changed since their three months there. However, they felt they had grown in numerous ways.

“It’s a wonderful, intentional community that works to just connect so many people who otherwise wouldn’t connect with each other. I made so many friends who I know if I had just been in a normal high school environment I wouldn’t have connected with.”

— Eliza Braunschneider

Seven Steiner, a CHS senior, attended the school last year yet still talks very highly about it. They often reminisce over their time there, sharing funny stories and memories with friends. Steiner’s experience at The Mountain School wasn’t similar to anything they had ever done.

“It was cool to live in a dorm and be away from home, it was like a college experience in a way, but not college,” Steiner said. “It was cool to be able to make my own decisions on things.”

They found it freeing to be so in control of their decisions and felt they got a taste of college life. Steiner then recalled a day when it was pouring rain and Steiner, along with a group of friends, went out along the trails around campus with no rain gear at all.

“We just ran around in the rain and got soaked and that was a lot of fun,” Steiner said. “There were just a lot of little moments of connection.”

He was glad to have shared this lovely moment with his new friends and felt a strong connection with them at that moment. They continue to feel this as they keep in touch with many.

Eloise MacDougald, a junior at CHS, is days away from attending her first semester in Vermont. Despite having spent a year abroad in Scotland during her sophomore year, MacDougald found it hard to say goodbye to her friends and family.

“My dad’s been following me around the house because he’s already missing me,” MacDougald said.

MacDougald hopes to gain greater independence and self-sufficiency through all her new experiences. And based on experiences with Steiner and Braunschneider, that doesn’t sound too hard to achieve. Currently, she is experiencing this school life in Vermont as I type.

The Mountain School has left students with nothing but great experiences. Students attending The Mountain School and then returning to Community High School have found it easy to slip back into old routines, yet have gained a new perspective on life. They cherish these memories that have altered their teenage years.

“If you have the opportunity to do it, you 100% should take it because it’s life-changing. It was so beautiful.”

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About the Contributor
Luca Hinesman, Journalist
Luca Hinesman is currently a Sophomore at Community High School and a believer in buying expensive coffees. When not in CET rehearsals or mock trial practices, you can find them reading books about revenge, catching up on homework, or hanging out with friends. Luca is currently in their first semester with The Communicator and is excited to contribute their ideas this year!

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