By Nalia Higgins

At Springhouse, students get to visit other schools that are a part of the Network of Complementary Schools program. I visited the Academy at Charlemont. Charlemont is a school in Massachusetts. I had never been to Massachusetts. It is very different from Virginia where I have lived my whole life. The first thing that I noticed was that it was much colder. I was prepared for this, but even so when I stepped out of the airport after my first plane ride ever and felt the cold wash over me, I felt very excited. 

I was in for a lot more excitement from the weather and climate, partly because the Academy at Charlemont had a hiking group that I participated in. Each day, I had no idea where we would be hiking, but I was in for anything, even snow. Most of the trails I hiked on were very snowy. I enjoyed the snow even though I didn’t have snow boots. I only had shoes, which got soaked by the snow, but even that was not enough to stop me from sometimes going off the trail to step in the deep snow. I did this because this was some of the deepest snow I’d ever seen. It was fun to see how deep my feet would sink. 

The trails were in the forest. I had never seen a forest quite like the forests there. One Difference that I noticed included the trees, of course. Although I was familiar with many of the trees, they seemed to grow slightly different. I also noticed trees that I was not familiar with. Another thing that I noticed was that the forest seemed to have less underbrush. All of these differences felt very special to me and I very much enjoyed seeing them. Overall, I am grateful for all of the hikes that I went on and for the opportunity to experience a different climate.

My other experiences at The Academy at Charlemont were very interesting. I enjoyed jumping into a whole new school with a very different schedule than I was used to. Charlemont is a small school, but it felt giant to me because it has a little over ninety students (whereas Springhouse currently has 18). The building itself also felt big and sometimes confusing because I did not know my way around. There was one room in the school which was completely for art. This was my favorite room. It felt very authentic and buzzed with creativity. The whole room had inspiring art everywhere. It was full of art supplies, so I felt welcome to come and make art. I really enjoyed some of the art classes that I was in. Another class that I enjoyed was the photography class. The photography there was all non-digital. At Springhouse, I learned about non-digital photography, so it was really exciting to get to be in Charlemont’s photography class. I learned a lot about photography from it.  

It was amazing going to Massachusetts and visiting a school there. I feel like I learned a lot from the experience. I very much enjoyed seeing things which I had never seen before, meeting lots of new people, and going on an adventure.  

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